Docs More Likely to Prescribe Unneeded Antibiotics Later in Day: Study

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MONDAY, Oct. 6, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors are more likely to prescribe unnecessary antibiotics for respiratory infections as the day progresses, a new study finds.

It appears that doctors "wear down" throughout the day, making them more likely to make inappropriate decisions about antibiotics, according to the researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

"Clinic is very demanding and doctors get worn down over the course of their clinic sessions," study lead author Dr. Jeffrey Linder, of the hospital's division of general medicine and primary care, said in a hospital news release.

"In our study we accounted for patients, the diagnosis and even the individual doctor, but still found that doctors were more likely to prescribe antibiotics later in their clinic session," he said.

The researchers analyzed data from more than 21,000 visits by adults with acute respiratory infections to 23 primary care doctors over 17 months. Antibiotic prescribing increased throughout the morning and afternoon, the study authors observed.

"This corresponds to about 5 percent more patients receiving antibiotics at the end of a clinic session compared to the beginning," Linder said. "Remedies for this problem might include different schedules, shorter sessions, more breaks or maybe even snacks."

The study was published Oct. 6 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Further research is needed to learn more about why this increase in antibiotic prescribing occurs and to find solutions, Linder and his colleagues said.

Misuse and overuse of antibiotics can contribute to the growth of drug-resistant bacteria.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about antibiotics.