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Delaying Antibiotics Safe and Effective for Respiratory-Tract Infections

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - For most patients with respiratory-tract infections, including those in higher-risk subgroups, it's likely okay to delay antibiotics, according to results of a large meta-analysis with individual patient data.

"Delayed antibiotic prescribing - also known as 'just in case prescribing' - is where patients agree not to collect a prescription immediately and see if symptoms settle to help reduce antibiotic use," a news release accompanying the paper in The BMJ explains.

Clinical trials have suggested that delayed antibiotic prescribing for respiratory-tract infections is probably safe and effective for most patients, but these clinical trials have been underpowered to look at subgroups or harms, and might be subject to selection bias, the authors note in their article.

"This study allowed us to bring together almost all of the data from the studies that contributed to the existing literature. By pooling the data from over 55,000 patients, we were able to look at whether there were particular groups of patients who would benefit from, or be harmed by, a delayed prescription," first author Dr. Beth Stuart with University of Southampton, in the U.K., told Reuters Health by email.

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