Reducing Infections While Cutting Costs: Eliminating Antibiotic Overprescriptions

The overprescription of antibiotics for acute respiratory infections (ARIs) contributes to unnecessary patient harm by producing side effects, promoting opportunistic infection and abetting the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The problem persists despite published clinical guidelines for diagnosing and treating ARIs, recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more judicious use of antibiotics, and educational interventions. Clearly, other strategies are needed — ones that take into account the understanding that physicians are human and subject to the same pressures and social norms as the rest of us. Research led by the Schaeffer Center has posed and proven multiple solutions to this challenge, including “nudges” based in social psychology and behavioral economics.

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