NIH study shows children may be overprescribed antibiotics in online doctor visits

Children seeking medical care online or through a smartphone may be prescribed antibiotics they don’t need, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health in addition to also also published in “Pediatrics” on Monday.

More than half of children seeking online care for acute respiratory infections, including sinusitis, strep throat or bronchiolitis, were prescribed antibiotics, compared with 31% of kids who saw their primary care physician in person in addition to also also 42% of those who went to urgent care, according to the study.

This kind of is actually the 1st time a study looked at telemedicine antibiotic prescriptions in children in addition to also also highlights the need for physical examinations in addition to also also medical tests, according to the study conducted by Dr. Kristin Ray, alongside University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine colleagues.

of which’s often difficult for doctors to differentiate between a bacterial in addition to also also a viral infection, the latter of which doesn’t require antibiotics, Dr. Karen Lee, the program director of the National Institute of Child Health in addition to also also Human Development, said in an email.

Doctors worry of which overprescribing antibiotics can make the bacteria resistant, producing of which harder to treat infections with standard drugs. Last year, at least 2 million people were infected with an antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to the Centers for Disease Control in addition to also also Prevention.

The researchers examined 4,604 telemedicine visits, 38,408 urgent care trips in addition to also also 485,201 primary care visits of children who were infants through 17 years old using claims data via a national commercial health plan. Children who had some other symptoms or infections, such as a urinary tract infection, weren’t included since those may have contributed to the physician’s decision to prescribe medication.

The study comes at a time when direct-to-consumer, or DTC, telemedicine visits are on the rise in addition to also also technology is actually playing a larger role in combining home health care in addition to also also physician offices. CVS partnered with virtual care leader Teladoc in addition to also also opened its virtual MinuteClinic last August, allowing people over 2 years old to see a doctor via an app for about $60. some other companies are following suit.

Telemedicine companies stress the convenience of not having to leave home. Roughly 96% of large business insurance plans offer coverage for telemedicine visits, according to the study. of which’s leading to an increase in children’s access in addition to also also use, researchers added.

nevertheless the American Academy of Pediatrics continues to discourage telemedicine visits for children with acute symptoms. There’s the lack of physical examination, limited access to patient records, decrease in privacy in addition to also also lack of a patient-provider relationship of which may lead to lower-quality care, according to the study. Also, children may have difficulty verbalizing their symptoms, producing of which harder for a physician to diagnose an illness.

“Together these issues may increase clinical uncertainty during pediatric DTC telemedicine visits, prompting physicians to prescribe antibiotics ‘just to be safe,'” authors wrote.