AMA, Pew study highlights issues fighting superbugs in U.S. doctors' offices

More than half of U.S. physicians don’t believe antibiotic resistance is a concern for their practices and questioned tracking the appropriate use of antibiotics, a new study found.

The study released Thursday from the American Medical Association and Pew Charitable Trusts looked at the barriers to reducing unnecessary antibiotic prescribing, a key issue with combating antibiotic resistance.

“We are seeing today, as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, what our health system looks like with no or limited treatments available to tackle an outbreak,” said AMA President Susan Bailey in a statement.

The study of 1,550 primary care physicians found that 94% agree antibiotic resistance is a problem. However, 55% do not find it an area of concern in their own practices.

The study found that 91% felt that inappropriate prescribing was a problem in outpatient settings but only 37% believed it was a problem in their practice.

Physicians ranked other public health issues such as aversion to vaccines, obesity, diabetes and opioids above antibiotic resistance.

The study also found that 91% of physicians believed that stewardship programs to limit the unnecessary antibiotic use.

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But many said that “patients and families should be the primary focus of stewardship efforts,” AMA said in a release.

Nearly half of respondents said they would need a lot of help to implement a stewardship program.

About half of the study’s participants also felt that tracking antibiotic use would be difficult to do in “an accurate and fair manner and that antibiotic use reporting would be a significant burden for their practice,” AMA said.

"Respondents indicated that they were likely to implement antibiotic stewardship efforts in response to feedback or incentives provided by payers or health departments,” the study said.