YOU PROBABLY KNOW BY now that many, many antibiotics are prescribed inappropriately – when they couldn’t possibly be of help – like for viral infections since the medications only treat bacterial infections. In fact, research finds tens of millions of unnecessary antibiotic prescriptionsare written each year in the outpatient setting, like doctors’ offices, alone.

While certainly there are some clinical judgment calls, factors associated with this glut of overprescribing often have little or nothing to do with what’s in the patient’s best interest. Even the time of day a patient sees a doctor (later in the day) has been linked to a greater likelihood that person will be prescribed an antibiotic. What’s more, research finds factors from the doctor’s age (older doctors tend to prescribe more antibiotics than younger ones) to patient demographics – including race and age – are linked to variations in inappropriate antibiotic prescribing rates.

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