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Antibiotics Overused By Nurse Practitioners, Doctors

Use for viral infections increases risk of drug-resistance

TUESDAY, Oct. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Nurse practitioners and physicians are equally likely to prescribe antibiotics to patients with viral infections of the upper respiratory tract, according to a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

Elissa Ladd, Ph.D., a family and geriatric nurse practitioner at the MHG Institute of Health Professions in Boston, analyzed the prescribing practices of nurse practitioners and physicians from 1997 to 2001 in an ambulatory setting.

Nurse practitioners prescribed antibiotics for 50.4% of viral infections of the upper respiratory tract as did 53% of physicians. There were no significant differences between the two groups in terms of prescribing antibiotics to patients with known viral infections.

"The emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria within the context of a dwindling supply of newer antimicrobial agents has become a significant and unforeseen public health problem. While the underlying cause of antimicrobial resistance is multifactorial, it is widely believed that resistant strains of bacteria are a direct result of injudicious prescribing of antibiotic medication in the ambulatory setting," writes the author.

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