Contagion: Data on Outpatient Prescribing in the United States

November 17, 2016
MD Magazine® Staff

The CDC's Lauri A. Hicks, DO, captain, US Public Health Service, director, Office of Antibiotic Stewardship, discusses antibiotic prescribing data, with an emphasis on outpatient settings.

In a video interview posted on our sister site Contagion Live, 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, discusses antibiotic prescribing data, with an emphasis on outpatient settings.

According to Hicks:

“We have really good data that give us a pretty nice national view of how antibiotics are prescribed in outpatient settings. We know that about 835 prescriptions per 1000 people are prescribed each year in the United States, just in outpatient settings. That really is enough antibiotic prescribing for every 5 out of 6 people to receive an antibiotic each year; it’s about 266 million antibiotic prescriptions just in that setting.

When we think about hospitals, we know that about 50% of patients who are hospitalized will receive at least one antibiotic during their course of stay; so, not only are we seeing a lot of antibiotic use in the outpatient setting, [such as] in doctors’ offices [and] emergency rooms, we’re also seeing a lot of antibiotic prescribing in hospitals.

We recently published a study where we looked at the number of prescriptions and the proportion of prescriptions that were unnecessary in doctors’ offices and emergency rooms, and we found that at least 30% of all antibiotics prescribed in these settings are completely unnecessary, which is a pretty alarming number. That actually equated to, in that particular study, 47 million prescriptions per year. We know that in addition to unnecessary prescribing, that there is [an] issue related to appropriate selection of antibiotics and making sure that the patient also gets the right duration and right dose of antibiotic.”

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