Dentists Overprescribe Pre-Surgery Antibiotics, OSU Study Says

A new study by a group of universities, including Oregon State, shows dentists nationwide are potentially overprescribing antibiotics over 80 percent of the time. 

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and in partnership with University of Illinois-Chicago and Northwestern University, found that only 21 percent of antibiotic prescriptions reviewed would have been considered necessary under “widely accepted medical guidelines.” 

The study reviewed 170,000 prescriptions written between 2011 and 2015. Given that dentists write approximately 10 percent of all prescriptions written nationwide, it suggests this problem is widespread. However, the data and definitions used by the study were more general than specific, meaning the actual numbers may be different.  

But the practice of overprescribing has long-term effects, like the development of bacteria and infections resistant to common antibiotics because of frequent exposure to them, according to Jessina McGregor, associate professor at OSU’s College of Pharmacy.  

The study also found western states have a higher rate of overprescribing. About 85 percent of prescriptions written in western states weren’t in line with use guidelines for the drug, compared to about 80 percent in eastern states.  

By Ian MacRonald