Shekhawat NS, et al. Ophthalmology. 2017;doi:10.1016/j.ophtha.2017.04.034

June 30, 2017
2 min read

Study: Nearly 60% of acute conjunctivitis patients prescribed antibiotics


Shekhawat NS, et al. Ophthalmology. 2017;doi:10.1016/j.ophtha.2017.04.034

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Even though antibiotics are usually not needed to treat acute conjunctivitis, nearly 60% of patients with newly diagnosed acute conjunctivitis in a managed care network were prescribed antibiotics, according to a study.

Researchers from University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center used the Clinformatics DataMart database to analyze records of patients in a large U.S. managed care network. The retrospective, observational cohort study included 340,372 patients with acute conjunctivitis diagnosed between Jan. 1, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2014.

Fifty-eight percent of patients in the study filled one or more topical antibiotic prescriptions for acute conjunctivitis. Those first diagnosed by an ophthalmologist had the lowest percentage of filled antibiotic prescriptions (36%) while those diagnosed by an urgent care physician had the highest percentage (68%).

Enrollees diagnosed by an optometrist, internist, pediatrician or family practitioner all had higher odds to fill an antibiotic prescription for conjunctivitis.
Black patients had 11% lower odds than white patients of filling prescriptions, Latino patients had 17% lower odds, and Asian-Americans had 27% lower odds.

Patients with higher education and affluence had higher odds of filling prescriptions compared with those with lower education and affluence (P < .01).

“Patterns of antibiotic use for acute conjunctivitis seem to be driven more by sociodemographic factors and the type of health care provider who diagnosed the condition than by medical indications. These findings highlight the need to educate patients, clinicians and health policy makers better about acute conjunctivitis and to search for ways to reduce unnecessary use of antibiotics for this condition,” the researchers wrote. – by Robert Linnehan

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.