A new study published in JAMA reveals that the rate of antibiotic prescription for acute bronchitis was about 70 percent between the years 1996 and 2010 despite guidelines, educational efforts and studies showing that they are ineffective in treating the condition.
Acute bronchitis is a cough-predominant respiratory illness of less than 3 weeks' duration. For more than 40 years, trials have shown that antibiotics are not effective for this condition. Despite this, between 1980 and 1999, the rate of antibiotic prescribing for acute bronchitis was between 60 percent and 80 percent in the United States. During the past 15 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has led efforts to decrease prescribing of antibiotics for acute bronchitis. Since 2005, a Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) measure has stated that the antibiotic prescribing rate for acute bronchitis should be zero, according to background information in the article.
Michael L. Barnett, M.D., and Jeffrey A. Linder, M.D., M.P.H., of Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, evaluated the change in antibiotic prescribing rates for acute bronchitis in the United States between 1996 and 2010. For the study, the researchers used data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, which are annual, nationally representative surveys that collect information about physicians, outpatient practices, and emergency departments (EDs), as well as patient-level data including demographics, reasons for visits, diagnoses, and medications.
"Avoidance of antibiotic overuse for acute bronchitis should be a cornerstone of quality health care. Antibiotic overuse for acute bronchitis is straightforward to measure. Physicians, health systems, payers, and patients should collaborate to create more accountability and decrease antibiotic overuse," the authors conclude.