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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Vanderbilt: Study Tracks Causes of High Antibiotic Prescribing Rates in Tennessee

Tennessee has been ranked as one of the highest antibiotic prescribing states in the nation, and a recent study showing that fewer than 2 percent of clinicians were responsible for prescribing 25 percent of pediatric antibiotics is moving some to action.

Dr. Sophie Katz, associate director of pediatric antimicrobial stewardship at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, and researchers from the Tennessee Department of Health and the Tennessee Valley Healthcare System reviewed data from a 2016 statewide database to discover what was driving antibiotic prescribing in Tennessee and identify opportunities for improvement.

“Population-based Assessment of Patient and Provider Characteristics Influencing Pediatric Outpatient Antibiotic Use in a High Antibiotic Prescribing State” was published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology. The study found an average of 1,165 antibiotic prescriptions were written for every 1,000 children, 50 percent higher than the national pediatric prescribing rate that year. It also reported that 360 of the 21,762 providers in the dataset were responsible for about one-fourth of the broad-spectrum antibiotics prescribed.

The team found the high prescribing practice more prevalent among physicians in rural areas and among those who graduated from medical school before 2000.

Dr. Katz said her team suspects that antibiotic stewardship is a “relatively new concept,” so this group of physicians received less education on it during their training, or it is possible that their patient population is sicker and/or requires antibiotics to prevent infections.

She said the study findings could be helpful in other high-prescribing states to identify interventions to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescribing.

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