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Research Letter
September 2018

Comparison of Antibiotic Prescribing in Retail Clinics, Urgent Care Centers, Emergency Departments, and Traditional Ambulatory Care Settings in the United States

Author Affiliations
  • 1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
  • 2Pediatric Infectious Diseases, University of Utah, Salt Lake City
  • 3The Pew Charitable Trusts, Washington, DC
JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(9):1267-1269. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.1632

Antibiotic use contributes to antibiotic resistance and is associated with adverse events, including Clostridium difficile infections.1 Antibiotic overuse, especially for viral respiratory infections, is common.2 Only 60% of outpatient antibiotic prescriptions dispensed in the United States are written in traditional ambulatory care settings (hereinafter “medical offices”) and emergency departments (EDs).2 Growing markets, including urgent care centers and retail clinics, may contribute to the remaining 40%.3,4 Our objective was to compare antibiotic prescribing among urgent care centers, retail clinics, EDs, and medical offices.

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    1 Comment for this article
    EXPAND ALL
    It’s About the Money
    David S. Smith, MD | Retired Physician, Wisconsin
    As pointed out elsewhere, the business model is to make the antibiotic seeking patient happy. We, the medical field, created that patient. I was called a quack and the patient threatened to report me because I did not prescribe antibiotics for a cold that just started. He went down the road to the local urgent care center to get his prescription, and proof that I was a quack.

    It is also a lot easier to code a level 4 visit when you write a prescription. It takes time to tell somebody why they don’t need a prescription
    That is a level 3 visit most of the time.


    CONFLICT OF INTEREST: None Reported
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