In what settings do dermatologists most frequently prescribe antibiotics, and how is this use changing over time?
Between 2008 and 2016 among 985 866 courses of oral antibiotics prescribed by 11 986 unique dermatologists in this repeated cross-sectional analysis, there was a decrease in overall antibiotic prescribing from 3.36 to 2.13 courses per 100 visits. However, there was an increase in prescribing associated with surgical visits from 3.92 to 6.65 courses per 100 visits.
Overall antibiotic use by dermatologists is declining; however, the use of oral antibiotics after surgical visits is increasing, and the value of this practice should be carefully evaluated.
Dermatologists prescribe more oral antibiotic courses per clinician than any other specialty, and this use puts patients at risk of antibiotic-resistant infections and antibiotic-associated adverse events.
To characterize the temporal trends in the diagnoses most commonly associated with oral antibiotic prescription by dermatologists, as well as the duration of this use.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Repeated cross-sectional analysis of antibiotic prescribing by dermatologists from January 1, 2008, to December 31, 2016. The setting was Optum Clinformatics Data Mart (Eden Prairie, Minnesota) deidentified commercial claims data. Participants were dermatology clinicians identified by their National Uniform Claim Committee taxonomy codes, and courses of oral antibiotics prescribed by these clinicians were identified by their National Drug Codes.
Claims for oral antibiotic prescriptions were consolidated into courses of therapy and associated with the primary diagnosis from the most recent visit. Courses were stratified into those of extended duration (>28 days) and those of short duration (≤28 days).
Main Outcomes and Measures
Frequency of antibiotic prescribing and associated diagnoses. Poisson regression models were used to assess for changes in the frequency of antibiotic prescribing over time.
Between 2008 and 2016 among 985 866 courses of oral antibiotics prescribed by 11 986 unique dermatologists, overall antibiotic prescribing among dermatologists decreased 36.6% (1.23 courses per 100 visits) from 3.36 (95% CI, 3.34-3.38) to 2.13 (95% CI, 2.12-2.14) courses per 100 visits with a dermatologist (prevalence rate ratio for annual change, 0.931; 95% CI, 0.930-0.932), with much of this decrease occurring among extended courses for acne and rosacea. Oral antibiotic use associated with surgical visits increased 69.6% (2.73 courses per 100 visits) from 3.92 (95% CI, 3.83-4.01) to 6.65 (95% CI, 6.57-6.74) courses per 100 visits associated with a surgical visit (prevalence rate ratio, 1.061; 95% CI, 1.059-1.063).
Conclusions and Relevance
Continuing to develop alternatives to oral antibiotics for noninfectious conditions, such as acne, can improve antibiotic stewardship and decrease complications from antibiotic use. In addition, the rising use of postoperative antibiotics after surgical visits is concerning and may put patients at unnecessary risk of adverse events. Future studies are needed to identify the value of this practice and the risk of adverse events.
Barbieri JS, Bhate K, Hartnett KP, Fleming-Dutra KE, Margolis DJ. Trends in Oral Antibiotic Prescription in Dermatology, 2008 to 2016. JAMA Dermatol. Published online January 16, 2019155(3):290–297. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2018.4944
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