Contagion: Antibiotic Prescribing Rates Vary Across the US

November 18, 2016
MD Magazine® Staff

The CDC's Lauri A. Hicks, DO, captain, US Public Health Service, director, Office of Antibiotic Stewardship, discusses how antibiotic prescribing data vary across the United States.

Visit our sister site, Contagion Live, to watch a video interview with Lauri A. Hicks, DO, captain, US Public Health Service, director, Office of Antibiotic Stewardship, medical director, Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work, Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the interview, Hicks discusses several variations in antibiotics prescribing patterns across the US that were uncovered by researchers.

According to Hicks:

“Interestingly, there’s a lot of geographic variability in antibiotic prescribing, which has [been] seen to persist. We’ve started looking at these data initially in 2010, and more recently we’re still looking at variability in prescribing across the country. We see that prescribing is higher in the southern part in the United States, particularly in the Appalachian region than in other parts of the country. What is striking is that, actually, prescribing rates in some states are sometimes 2 times higher than prescribing rates in other states. For example, [in] West Virginia, which is the highest prescribing state, is more than double in terms of the prescribing rate compared to Alaska.

We do know that when we’ve looked at data on antibiotic prescribing for conditions that don’t warrant antibiotic therapy, like bronchitis, acute and complicated bronchitis, common cold, we see that there is a higher prescribing rate for these conditions in the south in the Appalachian region in those states where there are higher prescribing rates overall. There is some evidence of a little bit more inappropriate use [in those regions]; however, when we compare [the antibiotic prescribing] map to other maps, [such as] the map for obesity or the map for smoking, we see a lot of similarities; [therefore], there are some indications that the populations, in terms of the underlying health of the populations, could be different in West Virginia, the Appalachian region, the south, as compared to, [for example], the Pacific Northwest.”

To watch the video, and read the full text of Hicks’ remarks, visit Contagion Live.