Article Content

Patients with respiratory tract infections treated at urgent care centers receive antibiotics they don't need. At urgent care clinics, 46% of patients with respiratory tract infections were prescribed antibiotics, compared with 25% at EDs and 17% at medical offices. Antibiotics are unnecessary for some respiratory illnesses such as colds, bronchitis, and influenza, and prescribing them contributes to the increasing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. "Antibiotic stewardship interventions could help reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions in all ambulatory care settings, and efforts targeting urgent care centers are urgently needed," the researchers write in a research letter published July 16 in the online JAMA Internal Medicine. For example, telephone triage programs reduce outpatient visits for respiratory tract infections, resulting in fewer antibiotics prescribed. Nationwide, there are more than 10,000 urgent care clinics, and 54% of visits to them are for upper respiratory tract infections.