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Independents' Day

'Delay antibiotics for otitis media'

Delayed prescribing of antibiotics for acute otitis media is an effective way of reducing unnecessary use, a study shows.

Only 38 per cent of children in a 'wait and see' group received antibiotics compared with 87 per cent of controls, the US trial reported.

But children in the delayed prescribing group – in which parents were instructed only to use antibiotics if symptoms failed to improve after 48 hours – did not suffer worse fever or otalgia.

The study, published in

JAMA, also reported no serious adverse events with delayed scripts and no differences in rates of rash, otorrhoea or further consultations between the two groups.

In an accompanying editorial, Professor Paul Little, professor of primary medical care at the University of Southampton, said the research added to the accumulating literature on the benefits of delayed prescribing.

'The study suggests a waiting period of 48 hours is likely to result in 62 per cent of patients not using antibiotics; advising a wait of 72 hours is likely to result in even fewer prescriptions.

'Delayed prescribing appears reasonably safe and provides a significant step in the battle against antibiotic resistance.'

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