Survey: Urgent care clinics over-prescribe antibiotics

A new study found that many patients with respiratory infection, like a cold or flu, who visit urgent care clinics may be walking out with unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics.

"The patient comes in, they pay a copay and they have an expectation. If they leave empty-handed, if they leave with the idea 'just go rest and drink fluids,' they feel cheated." Dr. Marc Siegel, a Fox News medical correspondent, said. "They want the pill because it means something's been done."

Researchers found among visits for inappropriate respiratory diagnoses, antibiotic prescribing was highest in urgent care centers with 45.7 percent compared to 24.6 percent at emergency rooms and 17 percent at a traditional medical office.

"95 percent of respiratory infections are viral," Dr. Siegel said. "They don't respond to antibiotics."

Dr. Siegel said that antibiotic overuse leads to resistance, which causes millions of deaths worldwide. Nearly 500,000 people have died from antibiotic-resistant infections. Experts predict that number will get to 10 million by 2050.

"The superbugs are byproducts of overuse of antibiotics," Dr. Siegel said.

Patients should be more aware of their symptoms, he said. Green mucus, a fever, or sinus congestion could mean you have a bacterial infection and an antibiotic is needed.