J Am Coll Emerg Physicians Open. 2021 Apr 29;2(2):e12432. doi: 10.1002/emp2.12432. eCollection 2021 Apr.
STUDY OBJECTIVE: Antibiotic resistance is a global health threat. India has one of the highest rates of antibiotic use in the world. The objective of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of self-prescribed antibiotic use of patients presenting with febrile and infectious disease-related complaints to Indian emergency departments.
METHODS: This was a prospective observational study conducted at 6 Indian emergency departments (EDs) between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2019. Adult patients who presented with a chief complaint of febrile illness or infectious disease complaints were included. Our principal outcomes of interest were self-prescribed use of antibiotics within the prior 6 months or for the presenting complaint. We queried respondents about source of antibiotics as well as about demographic characteristics that influenced use.
RESULTS: A total of 1421 patients were enrolled. Sixty percent (n = 856) of respondents reported using antibiotics in the prior 6 months or for their current complaint. Those who reported self-prescribing antibiotics either in the past or currently had at least some college education (P < 0.001), tended to use the pharmacy (P < 0.001) or the ED (P = 0.001) for their care when sick, and were more likely to have some comorbid conditions (P = 0.014) as compared to the group that did not self-prescribe antibiotics. The most common reason respondents reported self-prescribing antibiotics was because they did not want to wait to see their doctor (n = 278, 33%). Thirty-five percent of patients who were self-prescribed antibiotics before presentation did not receive and were not prescribed antibiotics in the ED, at discharge, or both.
CONCLUSIONS: Self-prescribing of antibiotics occurs commonly in India. This use increases the risk for resistance due to inappropriate or unnecessary use. Promotion of antibiotic stewardship is needed to curtail such use.