Government and Regulations

Another Warning for Antibiotic Overprescription

Researchers suggest cutting overprescription by half through education and awareness.


The 2015 National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria set a goal of halving inappropriate outpatient antibiotic use by 2020. The CDC researchers analyzed the 2010-2011 National Ambulatory Medical Survey and the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey to figure out whether we’re getting closer to the goal.

About 1 in 3 antibiotic prescriptions is unneeded, according to the CDC study. Those 47 million excess prescriptions each year put patients at risk for allergy reactions or sometimes deadly diarrhea. Many of the unnecessary antibiotics are prescribed for respiratory conditions caused by viruses.

To help shift momentum in the right direction, the researchers suggest that outpatient health care providers (HCPs) can evaluate their prescribing habits and implement antibiotic stewardship activities, such as watchful waiting or delayed prescribing. Health systems can provide communications training, clinical decision support, and patient and HCP education. Patients also can talk with their HCPs about when antibiotics are needed and when they aren’t.

For more information on antibiotic stewardship, visit

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