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Private Physicians Drive Up Antibiotic Resistance, Helped Along By Patients

Physicians who see patients outside of hospital systems, such as those working in private offices, contribute disproportionately to the spread of antibiotic resistance because they are more likely to prescribe drugs unnecessarily, a first-of-its-kind nationwide study that looked at patterns of antibiotic use and drug-resistant infections has found.

A number of factors influenced the tendency to overprescribe, including mostly patient demand, but also time pressure to end patient visits sooner, fear of malpractice lawsuits if a prescription is denied, the use by some health plans of “patient satisfaction” surveys in contracting with physicians, and the way doctors are compensated for their services.

“The average patient suffering from a cold or an ear infection wants immediate relief and sees a prescription for antibiotics as the ticket for recovery, and the physician may be only too happy to oblige if writing it benefits her practice,” says the report, published online in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
 
 

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