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Paper of the day – Why do GPs prescribe antibiotics for RTI?

Medical education should emphasise the important of evidence-based diagnostic criteria, such as chronic respiratory disease and old age, as indicators of when to prescribe antibiotics, researchers behind a new GP study has found.

The study, which looked at the prescribing of 163 Dutch GPs from 85 practices over a year, found that GPs who tended to record acute respiratory tract episodes as infections rather than as symptoms were more likely to prescribe antibiotics. Doctors in the study who prescribed antibiotics tended to place excessive emphasis on symptoms such as white spots on the throat

But diagnostic labelling had no correlation with the incidence of acute RT episodes, and appeared to be an arbitrary process often used to justify antibiotic prescribing.

The Netherlands has a similar low level of prescribing for RTIs as the UK, but about half the prescribing in the study from the University Medical Center, Utrecht was not in accordance with guidelines.

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