Reduced dispensing of prescribed antibiotics during the Covid-19 pandemic has not increased severe complications from common infections.

Norman C, Svensson M, Schmidt I, Bergfeldt VS, Obeid R, Ternhag A, Struwe JL

BMC Public Health 22 (1) 252 [2022-02-08; online 2022-02-08]

Sweden has seen an accelerated decline in the number of dispensed antibiotic prescriptions from an already low level during the Covid-19 pandemic. This prompted us to explore whether the decrease in antibiotic prescriptions has reached a critically low level and resulted in an increase in treatment of severe complications from common infections. The aim was to study if the accelerated decrease in antibiotic sales has led to an increase in complications in outpatients with common infections. A population-based nationwide registry study based on the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register and the National Patient Register. The total number of dispensed antibiotic prescriptions decreased by 17% during 2020 compared to 2019. The decrease was most pronounced in younger age groups and for antibiotics targeting respiratory tract infections. The number of hospital admissions and visits to open specialist care due to pneumonia or complications related to otitis, tonsillitis, or sinusitis decreased by 4-44%. Prescriptions and numbers of visits or admissions due to urinary tract infections and skin infections remained largely unchanged compared to previous years. No increase in complications due to common bacterial infections could be detected despite an unprecedented decline in dispensed antibiotic prescriptions in outpatient care in 2020. The decrease in dispensed antibiotic prescriptions from pharmacies was probably primarily related to a general decrease in the incidence of respiratory infections due to the recommendations and restrictions implemented to mitigate the Covid-19 pandemic in Sweden. This in return led to fewer doctors' visits and consequently to fewer occasions to prescribe antibiotics, be they warranted or not.

Category: Health

Type: Journal article

PubMed 35135517

DOI 10.1186/s12889-022-12692-1

Crossref 10.1186/s12889-022-12692-1

pii: 10.1186/s12889-022-12692-1

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