HealthDay News — A considerable proportion of elderly patients with a nonbacterial acute upper respiratory tract infection (AURI) are prescribed antibiotics, according to research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Michael Silverman, MD, from St Joseph’s Health Care in London, Canada, and colleagues conducted a retrospective analysis of linked administrative health care data to examine the prevalence of antibiotic prescribing for nonbacterial AURIs in primary care physician practices. Data were included for 8990 primary care physicians and 185,014 patients aged 66 years or older who presented with a nonbacterial AURI (common cold, acute bronchitis, acute sinusitis, or acute laryngitis [53.4%, 31.3%, 13.6%, and 1.6%, respectively]).

The researchers found that 46% of the patients received an antibiotic prescription, with 69.9% of prescriptions for broad-spectrum agents. The likelihood of receiving prescriptions was increased for mid- and late-career physicians vs early-career physicians (rate difference, 5.1% and 4.6%, respectively), physicians trained outside the United States or Canada (3.6%), and physicians who saw 25 to 44 or 45 or more vs fewer than 25 patients per day (3.1% and 4.1% , respectively).

“In this low-risk elderly cohort, 46% of patients with a nonbacterial AURI were prescribed antibiotics,” the researchers write.

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References

Silverman M, Povitz M, Sontrop JM, Li L, Richard L, Cejic S, Shariff SZ. Antibiotic prescribing for nonbacterial acute upper respiratory infections in elderly persons [published online May 9, 2017]. Ann Intern Med. doi: 10.7326/M16-1131.