Doctors prescribe too many antibiotics for Black patients 65 years and older at an alarming rate, according to a new study.
Researchers at the University of Texas Health Sciences concluded that 64% of antibiotics prescribed to black patients were unnecessary and inappropriate – that number jumps to 74% for patients aged 65 and older.
White patients were over-prescribed at a rate of 56%.
According to WebMD, the study was based on 7 billion visits to doctors’ offices, hospitals and emergency departments in the United States. Most overprescriptions given to black patients were aimed at treating non-bacterial skin conditions, viral respiratory tract infections and bronchitis – but none of these conditions can be cured with antibiotics.
Searcher Eric Young said in a statement: “Our results suggest that Black and [Hispanic/Latino] patients may not be properly treated and are prescribed antibiotics even when not indicated. »
The results of this study warrant further examination of why unequal prescribing practices disproportionately affect the older black community, experts say.
Young said doctors tend to prescribe antibiotics to prevent mild symptoms from turning into an infection. Doctors become especially cautious if they think a patient won’t return for a follow-up appointment, which Young says “happens more frequently in the black community.”
dr. Rachel Villanuevapresident of the National Medical Association, pointed to long-running racial disparities and biases Black health care in America.
“We know that these kinds of inequalities have existed in our society for a long time,” Villanueva said in a statement. “They are not new and have been well documented for many, many years. But it deserves further research and further evaluation.
She added: ‘This is just the first step – we need to do a deeper assessment of how different communities are treated in the healthcare system. Why does this happen? »
Overprescribing antibiotics is extremely dangerous, reports WebMD. When overused, the bacteria that infect the body grow stronger and defeat the drugs that are supposed to save lives.
In addition to racial bias, some older patients have difficulty describing their symptoms, says Dr. Preeti Malani mentioned.
Malani added that inappropriate prescriptions can be particularly dangerous for elderly patients due to drug interactions and complications such as Achilles tendon rupture and bacterial infections that can occur after antibiotic use.
The alarming results of this study are expected to be presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases 2022 in Lisbon, Portugal.