New Program Curbs Overuse of Prescriptions for Respiratory Illnesses, Study Finds

Researchers saw a 6% reduction in prescribing antibiotics that were likely unnecessary for pediatric patients when individual audits and communications strategies were put into place.

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A multicenter study involving researchers from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) found that rates of antibiotic prescriptions were reduced for treating respiratory illnesses by implementing a communications strategy and individualized clinical feedback, suggesting that widespread implementation of this strategy could help reduce antibiotic overuse.

Antibiotics prescribed for acute respiratory tract infections (ARTI) account for more than 70% of all antibiotics prescribed to children during their outpatient visits. However, approximately one-third of those prescriptions for childhood ARTIs are considered inappropriate. Overuse of antibiotics can contribute to increased bacterial resistance, which more than 2 million Americans experience annually, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To address this excess number of prescriptions, the study team, including researchers from CHOP’s Center for Pediatric Clinical Effectiveness and the Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics, developed the Dialogue Around Respiratory Illness Treatment (DART) Quality Improvement (QI) Program, which combines internet-based communications skills training with an individualized antibiotic prescribing audit for clinicians.

In this study, a total of 83,195 eligible ARTI visits from more than 30,000 patients were included. With the implementation of the DART QI program, the authors observed a 6% decrease in the probability of antibiotic prescribing for ARTI overall. Because DART was relatively easy to implement across multiple healthcare networks, the authors suggested that the program be used more broadly to further curb the overuse of antibiotics.

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