New research presented yesterday at IDWeek 2019 indicates that nearly 4% of the patients given antibiotics unnecessarily before dental procedures experience serious adverse events, including allergic reactions and emergency room visits.
The findings are a follow-up to a study published in May that found that nearly 81% of antibiotics prescribed before dental procedures are unnecessary. For this study, the same team of researchers looked at the consequences of those unnecessary prescriptions and found that 3.8% are associated with serious adverse events. Among the 5,260 adverse events that occurred within 14 days, there were 3,912 were allergic reactions, 1,568 emergency room visits, and 9 cases of Clostridioides difficile infection.
The researchers also found that clindamycin—the second most frequently prescribed antibiotic by dentists, after amoxicillin—was associated with a 34% increased risk of an adverse event. Dentists are the top prescriber of clindamycin in the United States, and the earlier study had found that clindamycin was more likely to be unnecessarily prescribed before dental procedures than amoxicillin.
Katie Suda, PharmD, a co-author of the study and an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy, said that the findings are noteworthy because dentists account for 10% of all antibiotic prescriptions in the country, and are the top specialty prescriber of antibiotics.
“Dentists are a very unique prescriber group,” Suda said at an IDWeek press conference in Washington, DC. “Not only are they pressured to prescribe antibiotics from their patients, but also from other clinicians.”
Only certain patients require antibiotics
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