Urgent Care Centers Are Misusing Antibiotics

This is a problem (boldface mine):

Visits for antibiotic-inappropriate respiratory diagnoses accounted for 17% (n = 10 009) of retail clinic visits, 16% (n = 441 605) of urgent care center visits, 6% (n = 9 203 276) of medical office visits, and 5% (n = 257 010) of ED visits. Among visits for antibiotic-inappropriate respiratory diagnoses, antibiotic prescribing was highest in urgent care centers (45.7%; n = 201 682), followed by EDs (24.6%; n = 63 189), medical offices (17.0%; n = 1 563 573), and retail clinics (14.4%; n = 1444)

In graphic format:

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It’s not obvious why urgent care clinics are so bad. If it were just commercial pressures, one would expect retail clinics to be just as bad. It might be that urgent care clinics are getting more severe cases that, for financial reasons, aren’t winding up in the hospital or doctor’s office such as uninsured people. Maybe a lack of ‘prescriber authority’, either due to a doctor-patient relationship (hopefully) or being an ED doc, combined with possibly more severe cases could lead to more misprescriptions. Regardless of the mechanism, this is not good.

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