HealthDay News — Antibiotic prescribing for acute bronchitis and sore throats is still high, according to two studies presented at IDWeek.

Michael L. Barnett, MD, and Jeffrey A. Linder, MD, MPH, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, examined national trends in the rate of antibiotic prescribing for acute bronchitis in primary care practices and EDs between 1996 and 2010.

There was no change in the rate of prescribing by primary care physicians (P = 0.25) and an increase in antibiotic use in EDs (P = 0.02) during the study period, researchers found. Extended macrolides were prescribed for 36% of cases (increased significantly over study period), whereas other antibiotics were prescribed in 37% of cases (no significant change over time).

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In a second study, Barnett and Linder analyzed U.S. ambulatory visits to examine the changes in antibiotic prescribing for adults with sore throats from 1997 to 2010. The proportion pharyngitis-related ED visits was unchanged from 1997 to 2010 (2.2% to 2.3%), as well as the overall national antibiotic prescribing rate for these types of visit — with 60% resulting in an antibiotic prescription, the researchers found.  Penicillin was prescribed in 9% of visits.

“Most sore throats and cases of acute bronchitis should be treated with rest and fluids and do not require a visit to the doctor,” Barnett said in a statement.


  1. Barnett ML, Linder JA. Poster #962 “Antibiotic Prescribing for Adults with Sore Throat in the United States, 1997-2010.”
  2. Barnett ML, Linder JA. Poster #963. “Antibiotic Prescribing for Adults with Acute Bronchitis in the US, 1996-2010.”

Both Presented at: IDWeek 2013. San Francisco: Oct. 2-6, 2013.