Categorized | Colorado News, National News, News

Telemedicine Linked to Overprescribing Antibiotics for Kids

During telemedicine visits, patients interact with doctors and nurses through video or audio calls. They can be less expensive and easier than trying to get in at a pediatrician’s office or hauling kids to an urgent care center.

A study by Dr. Kristin Ray of the University of Pittsburgh was published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. Ray and her colleagues looked at more than 340,000 insured children who had acute respiratory illness medical visits in 2015 and 2016.

Children received prescriptions for antibiotics more than half the time during telemedicine visits, compared with 42% at urgent care clinics and 31% at doctors’ offices.

While overprescribing can help germs build resistance to antibiotics and mutate into untreatable superbugs, they also can add a needless cost to medical bills and even cause serious side effects, said Tim Landers, an Ohio State University expert on antibiotic-resistant infections. “These are not harmless drugs,” Landers said, who was not involved in the study.

The researchers also found that in looking at telemedicine doctors’ decisions about whether to prescribe or not prescribe antibiotics, 4 out of 10 failed to meet medical guidelines on matching treatment to diagnosis. That mainly had to do with doctors prescribing bacteria-fighting drugs to treat viral illnesses, such as colds and flus, that are unaffected by antibiotics.

In comparison, 3 out of 10 urgent care clinic decisions were inappropriate, and about 2 out of 10 doctors’ office decisions were.

A large recent study of antibiotic prescribing patterns for adults found little difference between telemedicine and office visits. But there had been little study of the issue in children.

Read more from the Associated Press

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