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Asking patients not to take antibiotics ‘effective’

By Nigel Praities

Asking patients not to use an antibiotic prescription if they feel better is as effective as providing a post-dated prescription for antibiotics, say Canadian researchers.

The Canadian study looked at 149 prescriptions for antibiotics written by nurse practitioners and GPs for patients with acute respiratory infections.

Half of the patients were given a prescription with the day of the visit and told to wait two days before using it and the other half were given a prescription post-dated for two days in the future.

Of the 75 post-dated prescriptions given to patients, 44% were dispensed. This compared favourably with the delayed prescribing technique, where 43% of prescriptions were dispensed.

Lead author Professor Graham Worrall, a GP and assistant professor in family medicine at Memorial University, Newfoundland, said: ‘Physicians need not worry overmuch that patients will rush out and fill delayed prescriptions at once; it appears that only about one in five will do so, regardless of whether or not the prescription is post-dated.’

Can Fam Physician 2010; 56: 1032-6

Asking patients not to take antibiotics ‘effective’