Health> Vol.6 No.8, March 2014

Factors Affecting Antibiotic Prescribing for Acute Respiratory Infection by Emergency Physicians

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ABSTRACT

Background: Antibiotics are frequently prescribed for upper acute respiratory tract infections (ARI) in the emergency department. To reduce inappropriate overprescribing, it is necessary to understand factors influencing physicians’ decisions to prescribe antibiotics. Objective: Analyze the judgment policies of emergency physicians to determine factors predicting antibiotic use. Design: Paper case vignette study. Participants: 104 emergency physicians from Wisconsin. Measurements: We used judgment analysis to derive the policies of 104 emergency physicians from their responses to 20 case vignettes. We designed the cases such that each physician’s use of clinical findings and patient factors could be inferred from the decisions they made about each case. Findings were compared to primary care practitioners (PCPs) in Colorado responding to the same paper cases to examine differences in factors influencing prescribing among the two groups. Results: The emergency physicians said they would prescribe an antibiotic (yes/no) in 51.4% of cases compared with 44.5% in the Colorado study. The majority of emergency physicians gave the greatest weight to duration of illness (51%), followed by temperature (20%) and cough (12%). Conclusions: These emergency physicians prescribed antibiotics more frequently than the Colorado PCPs. There was little difference in how clinical findings were weighted, suggesting this was not the source of the higher prescription rate among the emergency physicians. The considerable emphasis on duration of illness suggests that this would be a productive area for educational efforts to reduce antibiotic prescribing for ARI in the emergency department.

Cite this paper

Safdar, N. , Tape, T. , Fox, B. , Svenson, J. and Wigton, R. (2014) Factors Affecting Antibiotic Prescribing for Acute Respiratory Infection by Emergency Physicians. Health, 6, 774-780. doi: 10.4236/health.2014.68099.

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