Electronic Health Records may help curb unnecessary antibiotic use

A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine has found that when physicians use electronic health records to find out what is going around in their community, they are less likely to prescribe unnecessary antibiotics, according to an article in the Chicago Tribune.

According to the article, researchers examined electronic health records to look back at 28,000 patients who saw one of 69 doctors during flu seasons between 2006 and 2011.  They found that during peak flu season, physicians prescribed antibiotics less often.  They also found that more patients doctors had seen in the previous week with similar symptoms, the less likely they were to prescribe an antibiotic.

The authors conclude that making information about what viruses and infections are currently going around their community available to physicians may help curb unnecessary antibiotic use.

(Sources: Patient Safety Monitor Alert, http://www.patientsafetymonitor.com/, August 8, 2012; Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com, August 6, 2012; Annals of Internal Medicine, http://annals.org/journal.aspx, August 6, 2012)