Antibiotic prescribing and use

February 28, 2011

Person taking antibiotic pills off the shelf of a pharmacy.The Institute of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have identified antibiotic resistance as a major public health problem in our country. One of the biggest contributors to antibiotic resistance is the inappropriate prescribing and use of antibiotics.

Of particular concern is the prescribing of antibiotics for infections that are usually viral in nature—colds, sore throats, and most upper respiratory infections. These illnesses do not respond to antibiotics and nearly always get better on their own.

Since 1995 the CDC has run an outreach campaign to encourage appropriate use of antibiotics, and the overall rate of antibiotic prescribing decreased 23 percent from 1992 to 2000. Nevertheless, a high rate of inappropriate antibiotic use—a rate that continues to put population health at risk—persists.

This issue brief examines antibiotic prescribing trends in Michigan in recent years.

Efforts to educate providers and patients, especially for pediatric providers and patients, have resulted in overall decreased use of antibiotics for viral infections. High rates of inappropriate antibiotic prescribing occur in some parts of Michigan, particularly outside of Southeast Michigan. Of particular concern are the lack of testing for presence of a bacterial infection in children prior to prescribing an antibiotic, the continuing high use rates of antibiotics for viral infections in both children and adults, and the relatively high use of broad spectrum antibiotics among the adult population.

A number of efforts in Michigan have focused on reducing the inappropriate use of antibiotics. Most notably, the Michigan Antibiotic Resistance Reduction Coalition has had a number of successes in reducing inappropriate use over time. Overuse of antibiotics continues to be a major health problem in Michigan and nationally. Further efforts to reduce inappropriate use are essential for safeguarding our health and preserving the effectiveness of antibiotics.


Suggested citation: Kofke-Egger, Heather, Udow-Phillips, Marianne. Antibiotic Prescribing and Use. February 2011. Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation. Ann Arbor, MI.