Data Feedback Could Lessen Antibiotic Prescriptions

Sending graphs about antibiotic prescriptions reduced them going forward.

A recent study found that dentists are less likely to prescribe antibiotics after receiving a report of their past prescription rates.

In the UK, dentists prescribe approximately 10% of antibiotics, and previous studies have found that a majority of these prescriptions lack clinical evidence for the intervention. By prescribing unnecessary antibiotics, resistant strains form and can complicate future infections for patients.

By changing prescribing rates, it is likely that antibiotic resistance will not continue to grow, according to the study. The RAPiD (Reducing Antibiotic Prescribing in Dentistry) trial, which was published in PLOS Medicine, used dental prescribing and treatment data.

There were 2566 dentists included in the study, and researchers assigned some dentists to receive a graph of their monthly prescribing rate. Some practices also received a written behavior change message to outline recommendations.

The number of antibiotics prescribed per 100 treatment claims was 8.3 in the control group, and 8.5 in the intervention group at the beginning of the trial. After 12 months, the number decreased to 7.9 per 100 in the control group, and 7.5 per 100 in the intervention group, a 5.7% decrease.

The dentists who received a behavior change message reduced their antibiotic prescriptions by 6.1% compared with dentists in the intervention group. Findings suggest the interventions were able to reduce antibiotic prescriptions.

However, the researchers reported that the trial was unable to decipher the appropriateness of the prescriptions.

“The feedback provided in this study is a relatively straightforward, low cost public health and patient safety intervention that could potentially help the entire healthcare profession address the increasing challenge of antimicrobial resistance,” the authors concluded.