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Peritonsillar abscess risk following respiratory infection is low with/without antibiotics

September 15, 2020

While widespread unnecessary use of antibiotics can diminish their effectiveness, reducing antibiotic prescribing may increase the risk of serious bacterial infections. This study quantifies the benefits of prescribing antibiotics for respiratory tract infections in terms of reduction in risk of peritonsillar abscess. Researchers used a large sample of 11,000 anonymized electronic health records in the United Kingdom from 2002 through 2017 to estimate the probability of peritonsillar abscess within 30 days of a consultation for a respiratory tract infection, and compared rates between people prescribed or not prescribed antibiotics. Overall, the risk of peritonsillar abscess was low, and in two-thirds of cases, patients did not consult their primary care physician prior to developing an abscess. The study concludes that antibiotics may only prevent one case of peritonsillar abscess for every 1,000 antibiotic prescriptions, and authors suggest that reducing antibiotic prescribing may not have a significant impact on incidence of peritonsillar abscess.
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Peritonsillar Abscess and Antibiotic Prescribing for Respiratory Infection in Primary Care: A Population-Based Cohort Study and Decision-Analytic Model
Martin C. Gulliford, MA, FRCP, et al
King's College London, School of Population Health and Environmental Sciences and NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospitals London, United Kingdom
https://www.annfammed.org/content/18/5/390

American Academy of Family Physicians

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