Use of delayed antibiotic prescription in primary care: a cross-sectional study.

BMC Fam Pract 2019 Mar 26;20(1):45. Epub 2019 Mar 26.

Iberoamerican Cochrane Center, Biomedical Research Institute Sant Pau (IIB Sant Pau), Barcelona, Spain.

Background: One of several strategies developed to reduce inappropriate antibiotic use in situations where the indication is not clear is delayed antibiotic prescription (DAP), defined as an antibiotic prescription issued for the patient to take only in case of feeling worse or not feeling better several days after the visit. We conducted a survey to identify DAP use in Spanish primary care settings.

Methods: We surveyed 23 healthcare centers located in 4 autonomous regions where a randomized controlled trial (RCT) on DAP was underway. The primary variable was use of DAP. Categorical and quantitative variables were analyzed by means of the chi-squared test and non-parametric tests, respectively.

Results: The survey was sent to 375 healthcare professionals, 215 of whom responded (57.3% response rate), with 46% of these respondents declaring that they had used DAP in routine practice before the RCT started (66.6% afterwards), mostly (91.5%) for respiratory tract infections (RTIs), followed by urinary infections (45.1%). Regarding DAP use for RTIs, the most frequent conditions were pharyngotonsillitis (88.7%), acute bronchitis (62.7%), mild chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations (59.9%), sinusitis (51.4%), and acute otitis media (45.1%). Most respondents considered that DAP reduced emergency visits (85.4%), scheduled visits (79%) and inappropriate antibiotic use (73.7%) and most also perceived patients to be generally satisfied with the DAP approach (75.6%). Having participated or not in the DAP RCT (74.1% versus 46.2%; p < 0.001), having previously used or not used DAP (86.8% versus 44.2%; p < 0.001), and being a physician versus being a nurse (81.8% versus 18.2%; p < 0.001) were factors that reflected significantly higher rates of DAP use.

Conclusions: The majority of primary healthcare professionals in Spain do not use DAP. Those who use DAP believe that it reduces primary care visits and inappropriate antibiotic use, while maintaining patient satisfaction. Given the limited use of DAP in our setting, and given that its use is mainly limited to RTIs, DAP has considerable potential in terms of its implementation in routine practice.

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March 2019
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