The nation's healthcare providers are making progress in improving care for Medicaid patients and addressing two pediatric issues, but have made little progress in addressing the overuse of antibiotics, a National Committee for Quality Assurance study finds. Instead, study results show "little or no progress on overuse of antibiotics, the main cause of antibiotic resistance."
The State of Health Care Quality Report 2013 [PDF], released Wednesday, reports progress in key areas that was attributed in part to greater collaboration and improved communication between providers and patients. "When we take the long view of progress we've made, we see a lot of good news," said NCQA President Margaret O'Kane at a media conference. "But we also see not-so-good news in some areas."
One area where physicians are persistently and increasingly fall short is in reducing the non-essential use of antibiotics for patients. According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, antibiotic-resistant infections are responsible for 23,000 deaths in the U.S. each year and 2 million illnesses. "We know that the main cause of antibiotic-resistant infections is the overuse of antibiotics among patients," said O'Kane.
Since 2006, the NCQA has been tracking the use of antibiotic treatment in adults with acute bronchitis and found that compliance with not prescribing antibiotics was "strikingly and perpetually low."