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Do patient satisfaction ratings influence antibiotic prescribing?

By Julie Cullen, Managing Editor, American Nurse Today

Is it possible that providers might prescribe antibiotics (even when they’re not necessary and won’t affect outcomes) simply because patients give them higher ratings when they do? A study in JAMA Internal Medicine seems to say yes.

The study, which analyzed 8,437 appointments for respiratory tract infections (like the common cold) through the national telemedicine provider American Well’s Online Care Group, found that patients rated themselves happiest when they got an antibiotic prescription. Some experts think these ratings may influence provider antibiotic prescribing habits.

Another related study, in the Annals of Internal Medicine, indicates that another reason for overprescribing antibioitics is that it’s just easier. Rather than explaining to a patient why he or she doesn’t need antibiotics, some providers just write the prescription when the patient insists.

Dr. Rita M. Mangione-Smith, the division chief of general pediatrics and hospital medicine at Seattle Children’s Research Institute (she wasn’t involved with the study), says that solving this problem might mean changing the incentive structures that encourage providers to prescribe for better ratings. She suggests tying incentives to getting prescribing rates closer to bacterial prevalence rates.

Source: National Public Radio


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