Medicare Reimbursement Changes May Lead to More Antibiotic Use

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media , August 16, 2010

Use of the broad spectrum antibiotic subclasses of quinolones and macrolides increased more than the use of other subclasses, especially for those with prior drug coverage.

Researchers said that the use of antibiotic treatment for pneumonia had tripled among seniors who previously lacked drug coverage. They noted that this was encouraging in light of the high mortality associated with community acquired pneumonia among the elderly.

They found, however, increases also in antibiotic use for other acute respiratory tract infections—such as sinusitis, pharyngitis, bronchitis and non specific upper respiratory tract infection—for which antibiotics generally were not indicated.

"Although many interventions have helped curb antibiotic prescribing for acute respiratory tract infections and other conditions, our study indicates there may still be substantial room for improvement through education and changes in reimbursement practices to reduce inappropriate use of these drugs," Zhang said.

Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at

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