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Repeat consultations after antibiotic prescribing for respiratory infection: a study in one general practice



Repeat consultations after antibiotic prescribing for respiratory infection: a study in one general practice



British Journal of General Practice 44(388): 509-513



Several new antibacterial drugs have been introduced in the last 10 years with the aim of improved treatment of respiratory tract infection. The study set out to use repeat consultations as a measure of the outcome of antibiotic treatment for respiratory tract infection, and to develop a simple model for discussion of the cost effectiveness of alternative antibiotic treatments. All consultations to one practice during a single winter were reviewed by one general practitioner. A total of 1140 patients had acute symptoms suggestive of respiratory infection. Of these, 899 patients (79%) were prescribed antibiotics at the first consultation and 160 of the 899 patients (18%) returned for one or more repeat consultations; only nine repeat consultations were due to adverse effects of the antibiotics prescribed. Only two patients were admitted to hospital for respiratory symptoms following initial antibiotic therapy and both patients had additional reasons for their admission. Using the highest estimates, the cost of a repeat consultation was found to be 28.54 pounds. These data were used to calculate how much more might be spent on more effective antibiotics at the first consultation. It would be difficult to justify increasing the cost of antibiotic treatment by more than 5 pounds per patient, even if the new treatment were 100% effective and all repeat consultations were due to treatment failure (5 pounds is equal to 28.54 pounds x 0.18, which is the maximum cost of a repeat consultation multiplied by the proportion of patients prescribed antibiotics who make repeat consultations). From these results and a review of the literature it can be concluded that new antibacterial drugs will have to be carefully targeted if they are to prove cost effective in practice. Other methods for reducing repeat consultation merit investigation.

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Accession: 044201688

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PMID: 7748647


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