Delaying Antibiotics Doesn’t Worsen Respiratory Infection Symptoms

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%).

BMJ article

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