OBJECTIVE To examine the effect of patient education, in the form of a handout on viral versus bacterial infections, on determine if the additional infonnation decreases the use of antibiotics for upper respiratory tract infection.
STUDY DESIGN A randomized single blinded study of patients in family practice and a pulmonary specialty practice.
POPULATION Two Physician Assistants in rural family practice in Northwestern Washington, an ARNP in a pulmonary practice and a Pulmonologist in the same pulmonary practice in Spokane Washington. Patients selected were those with symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection of less then 10 days at time of visit.
OUTCOMES Number of prescriptions filled by each study group and length of time before filling prescriptions.
RESULTS 100% of patients without additional educational information went on to fill their antibiotic prescriptions an average of 3 days later. 75% of patients with additional educational material filled their prescriptions an average of 3.7 days later.
CONCLUSIONS The delayed prescriptions encourage patients to give their bodies natural defenses time to fight the illness. This may lead to a decrease in antibiotic usage as patients find themselves improving without the use of prescription medications.
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