Study Finds Continued Antibiotic Over-prescribing for Children with Sore Throats

An AHRQ-funded study found that more than 50 percent of children who see the doctor for a sore throat are prescribed antibiotics; however, not all of these children needed an antibiotic. Only sore throats caused by Group A beta-hemolytic strep can be treated effectively with an antibiotic. But the research found that although the simple test for strep bacteria is performed on only 15 to 36 percent of children who have sore throats, 53 percent of them are prescribed antibiotics. Dr. Jeffrey Linder, principal investigator for the study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, also found 27 percent of antibiotics being prescribed were much stronger and not recommended for strep in children. The antibiotics that are recommended are penicillin or amoxicillin, or erythromycin for children who are allergic to the others. The study was published in the November 9 issue of JAMA.