Study of Privately Insured Patients Shows Nearly One in Four Antibiotic Prescriptions Were Unnecessary

Issue 648
AHRQ News Now is a weekly newsletter that highlights agency research and program activities.
January 22, 2019

AHRQ Stats: Enrollment in Employer Health Plans

An estimated 10 percent of private-sector employees were enrolled in an employer-sponsored health plan having an annual premium of at least $8,500 for single coverage in 2016. (Source: AHRQ, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Statistical Brief #519: Enrollment in High- Premium Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance by State: Private Industry, 2016.) 

Today's Headlines:

Study of Privately Insured Patients Shows Nearly One in Four Antibiotic Prescriptions Were Unnecessary

Nearly one-quarter of the 15.5 million antibiotic prescriptions filled in 2016 by a population of 19.2 million privately insured children and adults under age 65 were unnecessary, according to a new AHRQ-funded study. The study in BMJ found that 23 percent of antibiotic prescriptions filled were for conditions for which an antibiotic is almost never recommended; 5.5 million, or 36 percent, were for conditions for which an antibiotic is only sometimes recommended; and 2.0 million, or 13 percent, were for conditions for which an antibiotic is nearly always recommended. Researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, the University of Michigan Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School conducted a combined analysis of a U.S. medical claims database and the 2016 version of an international system for categorizing diseases (ICD-10-CM). The analysis provides the most comprehensive estimates to date of inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics among people with private, employer-sponsored insurance. Access the study.  

AHRQ Views Blog Post—AHRQ in 2018: Laying Essential Groundwork for Improved Healthcare Quality, Better Value

Agency Director Gopal Khanna, M.B.A., reviews AHRQ’s numerous 2018 initiatives that position the agency for even greater impact in 2019 to address the unmet needs of the health care system. Among last year’s notable successes: funding to help treat an estimated 20,000 people struggling with opioid addiction; an innovative competition for the development of an app to collect valuable patient-reported outcomes data; support for patient safety initiatives that continue to reduce national rates of hospital-acquired conditions; and support for ongoing efforts to improve the heart health of more than 8 million primary care patients in rural areas. Access the blog post. To receive all blog posts by agency leaders on important health topics, submit your email address and select “AHRQ Views Blog.” 

New AHRQ Analysis Focuses on Opioid Use Among Women

Opioid-related hospitalization rates among women in 2016 were highest among whites (428 per 100,000 people), followed by blacks (380 per 100,000) and Hispanics (152 per 100,000), according to a new AHRQ analysis. It also showed that the percentage of opioid-related hospitalizations involving women who were pregnant or giving birth was lowest among blacks (5 percent), followed by whites (8 percent), and Hispanics (9 percent). These findings and others, including data on opioid-related hospitalization rates according to income and location, were drawn from AHRQ’s Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, the largest source of hospital care data in the United States. Access the AHRQ analysis.

Highlights From AHRQ’s Patient Safety Network

AHRQ’s Patient Safety Network (PSNet) highlights journal articles, books and tools related to patient safety. Articles featured this week include:

Review additional new publications in PSNet’s current issue or access recent cases and commentaries in AHRQ’s WebM&M (Morbidity and Mortality Rounds on the Web). 

Register Now for Feb. 7 Training Webinar on Clinical Decision Support Authoring Tool

Registration is open for a webinar on Feb. 7 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. ET to provide training on AHRQ’s Clinical Decision Support (CDS) Authoring Tool, which can help develop interoperable, standards-based CDS via a user-friendly application. The tool is offered as part of the AHRQ-sponsored CDS Connect, which demonstrates how evidence-based research can be more rapidly incorporated into clinical practice through interoperable decision support. Presenters will review CDS Connect and provide an authoring tool demonstration. This webinar would be ideal for health care researchers, informaticists, individuals interested in developing standards-based CDS expressions, and other health IT professionals. 

Impact Case Study: AHRQ Toolkit Helped NorthShore Health Track Data to Keep Infection Rates Low

Find out how Chicago’s NorthShore University Health System used AHRQ’s Toolkit for Reducing CAUTI in Hospitals to maintain low rates of catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI). Access the Impact Case Study.

AHRQ in the Professional Literature

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force priorities for prevention research. Mabry-Hernandez IR, Curry SJ, Phillips WR, et al. Am J Prev Med 2018 Jan;54(1S1):S95-S103. Access the abstract on PubMed®.

Enhancing comparative effectiveness research with automated pediatric pneumonia detection in a multi-institutional clinical repository: a PHIS+ pilot study. Meystre S, Gouripeddi R, Tieder J, et al. J Med Internet Res 2017 May 15;19(5):e162. Access the abstract on PubMed®.

Expert consensus on metrics to assess the impact of patient-level antimicrobial stewardship interventions in acute-care settings. Moehring RW, Anderson DJ, Cochran RL, et al. Clin Infect Dis 2017 Feb 1;64(3):377-83. Epub 2016 Dec 7. Access the abstract on PubMed®.

Cost effectiveness of age-specific screening intervals for people with family histories of colorectal cancer. Naber SK, Kuntz KM, Henrikson NB, et al. Gastroenterology 2018 Jan;154(1):105-16.e20. Epub 2017 Sep 28. Access the abstract on PubMed®.

Pneumococcal vaccination guidance for post-acute and long-term care settings: recommendations from AMDA's infection advisory committee. Nace DA, Archbald-Pannone LR, Ashraf MS, et al.  J Am Med Dir Assoc 2017 Feb 1;18(2):99-104. Access the abstract on PubMed®.

Can an out-of-hospital medication history save lives for injured older adults? Newgard CD, Platts-Mills TF. Ann Emerg Med 2017 Aug;70(2):139-41. Epub 2017 Mar 28. Access the abstract on PubMed®.

Conflicts of interest in clinical guidelines: update of U.S. Preventive Services Task Force policies and procedures. Ngo-Metzger Q, Moyer V, Grossman D, et al. Am J Prev Med 2018 Jan;54(1S1):S70-S80. Access the abstract on PubMed®.

Anticholinergic prescribing in Medicare Part D beneficiaries residing in nursing homes: results from a retrospective cross-sectional analysis of Medicare data. Niznik J, Zhao X, Jiang T, et al. Drugs Aging 2017 Dec;34(12):925-39. Access the abstract on PubMed®.

Contact Information

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Page last reviewed January 2019
Page originally created January 2019
Internet Citation: Study of Privately Insured Patients Shows Nearly One in Four Antibiotic Prescriptions Were Unnecessary . Content last reviewed January 2019. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.
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