Are Urgent Cares Prescribing Unnecessary Antibiotics?

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Playing New Study Shows Urgent Cares Overprescribe Antibiotics?

Is the antibiotic you're getting at your urgent care unnecessary?

The Doctors share that according to one study nearly half of the prescribed antibiotics people receive at these medical facilities are not needed. Senior investigative producer Leslie Marcus hit the streets to uncover the possible overprescribing practices taking place at various urgent care locations.

Watch: Why It’s so Vital to Know Which Antibiotics You Are Allergic To

Leslie visited numerous urgent care facilities in Los Angeles and told them she was suffering from a headache and congestion to find out what each location suggested and prescribed. She visited 5 different urgent cares and each of them prescribed her antibiotics after just meeting with her for a few minutes.

She notes that many of the urgent care locations also offered various cosmetic procedures like Botox injections, vitamin injections, laser hair removal, and weight loss surgery.

ER physician Dr. Travis Stork feels there are way too many instances of overprescribing antibiotics in both urgent care locations and emergency rooms. He explains overprescribing of antibiotics can lead to C. difficile, a weakened microbiome, and even possibly death. He also notes a virus should not be treated with an antibiotic, and only bacterial infections should be treated with antibiotics.

Watch: Common Antibiotics with a Dangerous Side Effect?

Infectious disease researcher Dr. Ravina Kullar stresses the need for further education of both patients and medical providers about when an antibiotic is needed and when it should not be taken in order to protect the health of the patient and the community

The Doctors note the common cold, which is what many patients go to urgent care for, can take 7 to 10 days to run its course and antibiotics are not how a cold should be treated. 

We reached out to The Urgent Care Association, who provided us with the following statement:

The Urgent Care Association (UCA) and our members are committed to being part of the solution to ensure appropriate antibiotic prescribing. We consider antibiotic stewardship to be an initiative that needs to be addressed by the entire medical community, as well as those who can influence the expectations of the consumer prior to a clinical encounter. 

UCA is a partner of Antibiotic Resistance Action Center (ARAC) Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University and the CDC, collaborating on strategy, research, communication and education for our members and the healthcare community at-large. 

UCA, the Urgent Care Foundation and the College of Urgent Care Medicine have either partnered or sponsored three convenings of industry stakeholders to address the contributions our industry can plan in combatting anti-microbial resistance. In addition, they will host the first annual Fall Urgent Care Clinical Consortium September 22-24 where industry leaders will continue to collaborate on ways to improve antibiotic stewardship in the urgent care setting. 

These same groups worked with ARAC and the CDC to create a Commitment to Antibiotic Stewardship currently housed on the UCA website. Organizations representing over 475 centers have signed the commitment.  

UCA’s Accreditation requires that antibiotic stewardship is a component of any organization’s overarching quality plan. Accredited or non-accredited organizations can also pursue Antibiotic Stewardship Commendation through UCA, which is based on the four core elements of the CDC’s antibiotic stewardship program for ambulatory care settings. 

We will continue to focus on responsible antibiotic stewardship and appreciate the commitment our members have made to responsible antibiotic prescribing.

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Playing How Can You Make Sure You Actually Need an Antibiotic?


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