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Study shows antibiotic prescribing for seniors varies geographically

September 25, 2012
by Sandra Hoban
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A recent study published in Archives of Internal Medicine looked at antibiotic prescribing patterns across the United States. Using Medicare records, researchers found that seniors in the South were prescribed more antibiotics than any other region of the country. The researchers also found that antibiotic use increased everywhere during the winter months.

Using Medicare data from 2007–2009, researchers found that 21 percent of older adults in the South were prescribed an antibiotic during every three-month period as compared to 17 percent of adults living in the West. In addition, the South had a higher use of every subclass of antibiotics, especially “broad spectrum” antibiotics, which is of concern because overuse of antibiotics can create bacterial resistance, making infections difficult to treat.

The study’s lead author Yuting Zhang said in an article, “Once you get resistance to those broad spectrum antibiotics, next time you have anything where you need that [antibiotic], it’s not going to be effective.”

Another group of researchers noted in a letter that between 2000 and 2009, 80 percent of adults with sinusitis were prescribed an antibiotic. The letter further states that evidence shows that treating sinus infections with antibiotics has limited benefits.

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