Telemedicine Results in Over-prescription of Antibiotics for Children


A recent release by the National Institutes of Health suggest that telemedicine consultations result in children receiving more prescriptions for antibiotics compared to office visits. The study conducted by Dr. Karen Lee, a program director in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development examined data from 4,600 telemedicine consultations, 38,000 urgent care visits and 485,000 primary care visits for children under 17 years of age presenting with respiratory signs.

The study disclosed that prescriptions were issued for 52 percent of the telemedicine consultations compared to 42 percent of urgent care visits and 31 percent if the patient was examined by a primary-care provider. Clinical guidelines for antibiotic prescriptions were less rigid for telemedicine compared to hands-on alternatives.

The impact of inappropriate prescription administration of antibiotics for viral respiratory infections is regarded as a significant cause of emerging antibiotic drug resistance.

*Ray, K. N. et. al. Antibiotic prescribing during pediatric direct-to-consumer telemedicine visits, Pediatrics, doi 10.1542/peds.2018-2491 (2019)