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Upper respiratory tract infections in general practice: diagnosis, antibiotic prescribing, duration of symptoms and use of diagnostic tests



Upper respiratory tract infections in general practice: diagnosis, antibiotic prescribing, duration of symptoms and use of diagnostic tests



Scandinavian Journal of Infectious Diseases 34(12): 880-886



A diagnosis/antibiotic prescribing study was performed in 5 counties in Sweden for 1 week in November 2000. As part of this study, the characteristics and clinical management of patients with upper respiratory tract infections (n = 2899) in primary care were analyzed. Almost half of the patients were aged < 15 y and one-fifth of the patients consulted out of hours. Of all patients seeking primary care for upper respiratory tract infections, 56.0% were prescribed an antibiotic. Almost all patients who were given the diagnoses streptococcal tonsillitis, acute otitis media or acute sinusitis were prescribed antibiotics, compared to 10% of patients with common cold or acute pharyngitis. The most frequently prescribed antibiotic was penicillin V (79.2%) and this was even more pronounced out of hours, when the diagnoses otitis media and streptococcal tonsillitis were more frequently used. In patients with common cold and acute pharyngitis, the percentage who received antibiotics increased with increasing length of symptoms and increasing CRP levels. In patients with acute pharyngitis or streptococcal tonsillitis, antibiotics were prescribed less frequently provided streptococcal tests were performed. The management of patients with upper respiratory tract infections in general practice seems to be in good agreement with current Swedish guidelines. However, the study indicates some areas for improvement. The diagnosis of acute sinusitis seems to have been overestimated and used only to justify antibiotic treatment.

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Accession: 050896271

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PMID: 12587619


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