Delayed antibiotic prescription is not associated with increased
symptom severity in patients with respiratory tract infections,
according to a BMJ study.
Clinicians in the U.K. assessed nearly 900 patients aged 3 years and
older presenting with respiratory tract infections. A third were
deemed to require immediate antibiotics. The remainder were randomized
to one of five strategies: They were asked to recontact the clinic for
an antibiotic prescription if needed; received a post-dated
prescription; were instructed to wait but allowed to collect the
prescription from the front desk; received a prescription but were
asked to wait to use it; or did not receive a prescription.
The primary outcome — patient-reported symptom severity on days 2 to
4 — did not differ significantly among the groups, including the
group prescribed antibiotics immediately. Antibiotic use was also not
significantly different across the randomized groups (26%-39%).