Prescription of antibiotics in the medical care of newly arrived refugees and migrants

Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2021 Apr 22. doi: 10.1002/pds.5254. Online ahead of print.


PURPOSE: Unnecessary and inappropriate use of antibiotics is a widespread problem in primary care. However, current data on the care of refugees and migrants in initial reception centers is pending. This article provides data on prescription frequencies of various antibiotics and associated diagnoses.

METHODS: In this retrospective observational study, patient data of 3255 patients with 6376 medical contacts in two initial reception centers in Germany were analyzed. Patient data, collected by chart review, included sociodemographic characteristics, diagnoses, and prescriptions. Antibiotic prescription behavior and corresponding physician-coded diagnoses were analyzed.

RESULTS: Nineteen percent of all patients in our study received systemic antibiotics during the observation period, with children below the age of ten years receiving antibiotics most frequently (24%). The most commonly prescribed antibiotics were penicillins (65%), macrolides (12%), and cephalosporins (7%). The most frequent diagnoses associated with antibiotic prescription were acute tonsillitis (26%), bronchitis (21%), infections of the upper respiratory tract (14%), and urinary tract infections (10%). In case of acute bronchitis 74% of the antibiotic prescriptions were probably not indicated. In addition, we found a significant number of inappropriate prescriptions such as amoxicillin for tonsillitis (67%), and ciprofloxacin and cotrimoxazol for urinary tract infections (49%).

CONCLUSION: Regarding inappropriate prescription of antibiotics in refugee healthcare, this study shows a rate ranging from 8% for upper respiratory tract infections to 75% for acute bronchitis. Unnecessary use of antibiotics is a global problem contributing to gratuitous costs, side effects, and antimicrobial resistance. This research contributes to the development of stringent antibiotic stewardship regiments in the particularly vulnerable population of migrants and refugees. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

PMID:33886141 | DOI:10.1002/pds.5254