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Doctors are more likely to Prescribe Antibiotics at the end of the Day

Update Date: Oct 06, 2014 04:07 PM EDT

Doctors are more likely to write prescriptions for antibiotics at the end of the day even if the drugs might not be necessary, a new study reported. Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston discovered that as the day passes, doctors appear to "wear down."

"Clinic is very demanding and doctors get worn down over the course of their clinic sessions," explained lead author of this study, Jeffrey A. Linder, MD, MPH, a physician and researcher in the Division of General Medicine and Primary Care at the Hospital reported in the press 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."

In this study, the team analyzed data on patients' billing and electronic health records. The information spanned 17 months and was collected from 23 primary care practices. The researchers were able to pinpoint when the patients visited the doctors, what their condition was and whether or not they were prescribed medication. Overall, there were more than 21,000 adult visits for acute respiratory infections (ARI) that occurred during two time frames, which were from 8a.m. to noon and from 1p.m. to 5p.m.

The researchers discovered that during the later sessions, five percent more patients received antibiotics. Over the past few years, due to the development of drug resistance, experts have been worried about doctors' prescription rate for antibiotics. Bacteria that become resistant to antibiotics are harder to treat, which could negatively affect people's survival rates. In order to prevent the development of more drug-resistant strains, experts have recommended doctors to avoid overprescribing antibiotics.

"Remedies for this problem might include different schedules, shorter sessions, more breaks or maybe even snacks," Linder concluded.

The study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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