Health + Wellness

Inappropriate Antibiotic Prescribing in Black Patients Reaches Alarming Levels


The majority of antibiotic prescriptions for U.S. seniors and Black and Hispanic Americans are inappropriate, a new report reveals.

For the study, researchers analyzed federal government data on more than 7 billion outpatient visits to doctors’ offices, hospital clinics and emergency departments nationwide between 2009 and 2016.

Nearly 8 million visits (11%) led to antibiotic prescriptions, the researchers reported at a meeting of the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases in Lisbon, Portugal. Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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Patients not getting treated properly

“Our results suggest that Black and Hispanic patients may not be properly treated and are receiving antibiotic prescriptions even when not indicated,” says study leader Dr. Eric Young, of the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.

“We know that physicians typically send patients home with antibiotics if they suspect their symptoms may lead to an infection,” Young explained in a meeting news release. “This practice becomes more common when patients are unlikely to return for a follow-up visit (i.e., no established care within a clinic or hospital system), which more frequently happens in minority populations.”

Antibiotic prescribing rates were highest in Black and Hispanic patients (122 and 139 prescriptions per 1,000 visits, respectively), the study found. They were also high in patients under age 18 and females (114 and 170 prescriptions per 1,000 visits, respectively).

In all, 64% of antibiotic prescriptions for Black patients, 58% of those for Hispanic patients, 74% of those for people aged 65 and older, and 58% of those for males were inappropriate, the researchers reported.

Inappropriate prescriptions were most often written for conditions not caused by a bacterial infection, such as

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