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Fam Pract. 1988 Sep;5(3):196-9.

Antibiotics and the adult sore throat--an unnecessary ceremony.

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  • 1Notrim Clinic, Ra'anana, Israel.


Antibiotics are overprescribed for patients with sore throats for many reasons, including the difficulties in diagnosing the cause of the symptom, as well as the pharmacological and placebo strength of antibiotics. Two hundred adult patients presenting to one general practitioner were divided into two groups. One group was given an antibiotic, the efficacy of which was stressed, and the other group was given symptomatic treatment with an explanation that no antibiotic was needed. Six months after the initial consultation the patients' notes were checked for return visits with respiratory complaints. Significantly more patients who received an antibiotic returned to the doctor with respiratory problems, especially young men. During the study, few patients resisted either a high or low prescribing policy. It is concluded that antibiotic treatment for sore throats did not prevent complication for the patient. Furthermore, high antibiotic prescribing created more work for the doctor by increasing the repeat visit rate. Patients were equally compliant with a high or low antibiotic prescribing policy.

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