non-bacterial skin conditions, viral respiratory tract infections and bronchitis, the study found.
The dangers of inappropriate prescribing
The findings raise questions about the effectiveness of efforts to reduce inappropriate antibiotic prescribing and underscore the need to redouble efforts to cut down on that in primary care, the study authors said.
“In older adults, inappropriate prescribing in primary care is associated with a wide range of adverse outcomes, including emergency hospital attendances and admissions, adverse drug events and poorer quality of life,” Young says. “Our results underscore that strategies to reduce inappropriate prescribing must be tailored for outpatient settings.”
Overuse of antibiotics has led to resistant bacteria that are becoming more difficult, and sometimes impossible, to treat.
Antibiotic use is far higher in the United States than in many other countries, despite efforts to reduce inappropriate prescribing. Outpatient prescribing accounts for up to 90% of antibiotic use in the United States, and nearly 202 million courses of antibiotics were dispensed to outpatients in 2020, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
How to avoid inappropriate prescribing
When you are prescribed a medication by your doctor, you can be proactive by doing the following:
- List all medications you are taking, along with the intended purpose of each medication. If the purpose of a medication is to control a sign or symptom, take note of when the symptom was last checked on, and how it’s been doing.
- Check to see if any of the medications are on the Beer’s list. Every few years, the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) updates its list of medications that older adults should avoid or use with caution. You can check out the list here.
- Check for signs of over-treatment, especially for high blood pressure and diabetes. For example, over-treatment of high blood pressure can cause an older adult’s blood pressure to be low, especially with standing.
- Check for drug interactions.