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Antibiotics Overprescribed for Sore Throat

by Christina Elston

Approximately half of all children who visit their pediatrician because of a sore throat are prescribed antibiotics, though probably only 15 percent to 36 percent actually need them, researchers say.

Experts have long been concerned that unnecessary prescription of antibiotics is causing the development of antibiotic-resistant germs. Now, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Children's Hospital in Boston have concluded that antibiotics for sore throat are likely over prescribed because a common test for group A streptococcal pharyngitis - a.k.a. "strep throat" - is drastically underused.

According to the researchers' analysis of 7.3 million health-care visits for sore throat, only 53 percent of the sore-throat patients who were prescribed antibiotics had received a strep test first..

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