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July 14, 1989

Antibiotic Overprescribing— Quantity or Quality?

JAMA. 1989;262(2):206. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430020048014

To the Editor.—  A letter in the December 23/30, 1988, issue of JAMA entitled "Imipenem Overprescribing" invited clinicians to contribute additional information regarding antibiotic use. The term overprescribing attracted our attention , since it is frequently bandied about in discussion of recently marketed antibiotics. We felt that it would be of interest to physicians and pharmacists to look at prescribing patterns of antibiotics, marketed within the last 7 years, from a national sample of hospitalized patients.

Study. —  We retrospectively reviewed data on parenteral antibiotic use from Pharmaceutical Data Services, Inc, of Scottsdale, Ariz. This computerized database compiles all patient discharge data (disease, procedures, and drug use) contributed from 50 geographically stratified hospitals in the United States. Presently, the database captures a 2% sample of national discharges. The hospitals' characteristics are as follows: teaching, 54%; nonteaching, 46%; nonprofit, 62%; church operated, 22%; for profit, 8%; government, 8%; 400 or more