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Medical News & Perspectives
October 3, 2012

IDSA: Avoid Antibiotics for Most Throat Infections

JAMA. 2012;308(13):1307. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.13019

Physicians should prescribe antibiotics only for patients with sore throats who have positive test results for a group A streptococcal infection, according to a new guideline from the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) (Shulman ST et al. Clin Infect Dis. doi:10.1093/cid/cis629 [published online September 9, 2012]).

Viruses cause the vast majority of sore throats, yet patients are prescribed antibiotics in 70% of the 15 million sore throat–related visits to US clinicians each year. Individuals whose symptoms are caused by a virus don't benefit from an antibiotic and are exposed to the adverse effects associated with these drugs. Additionally, unnecessary antibiotic prescribing is believed to contribute to the emergence of resistant bacteria.