Conference Coverage

Study finds increase in dermatologic prescriptions for postsurgical antibiotics



The prescription of oral antibiotics after benign excisions, malignant excisions, and Mohs surgery has increased over the past decade, according to an analysis presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology.

John Barbieri, MD, a dermatologist and postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, who presented the results, and colleagues examined data about antibiotic use in dermatology between 2008 and 2016. Overall, antibiotic use decreased during this period, primarily for chronic conditions such as acne and rosacea. On the other hand, antibiotic use associated with surgical visits increased by approximately 70%.

Using data from 2008 to 2016 in the Optum Clinformatics DataMart deidentified commercial claims database, the researchers performed a repeated cross-sectional analysis of oral antibiotic prescriptions associated with encounters for surgical procedures performed by dermatologists. They found that oral antibiotic prescriptions increased from 2.9% to 4.4% of visits for benign excisions, from 4.2% to 6.3% of visits for malignant excisions, and from 9.9% to 13.8% of visits for Mohs procedures during this time period. Oral antibiotic prescribing was more common for procedures that entailed a flap or graft and among patients with diabetes, female patients, and younger patients.

The investigators observed greater than twofold variation in antibiotic-prescribing rates across geographic census divisions. “If higher-prescribing divisions were to develop antibiotic prescribing rates similar to [those of] lower-prescribing divisions, antibiotic use could be decreased by over 50%,” Dr. Barbieri said. Before prescribing antibiotic prophylaxis, dermatologists should consider which patients benefit most from it, he added.

The investigators also examined the duration of antibiotic courses. The median course duration of postoperative antibiotics was 7 days. Randomized, controlled trials that collectively included more than 600 patients have failed to demonstrate a benefit of long postoperative courses of antibiotics, compared with perioperative antibiotics alone, said Dr. Barbieri. “While it may be hard to have true perioperative antibiotics available in a dermatology surgical clinic, there likely are opportunities to reduce these postoperative courses to a day or 3 days from this mean of 7 days that we observed in the study.” Reducing these courses would decrease the risk of antibiotic-associated complications such as nausea, diarrhea, and skin rashes, he added.

SOURCE: AAD 2019, Abstract 11356.

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