Co-author Daniella Meeker, associate information scientist at the RAND Corp., says that other studies that tested the effectiveness of posters haven't been as effective because they were more generic, and lacked the physician's personal signature and photo.
Inappropriate prescribing was determined through electronic health records which classified patients' illnesses according to ICD-9 diagnostic code. For nine of these codes, evidence agrees that physicians should never prescribe antibiotics. For another 16 ICD-9 codes, antibiotic prescriptions were said to be "appropriate."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antibiotic-resistant bacteria "pose a catastrophic threat." At least two million people in the United States becoming infected each year with a resistant bacteria that kills at least 23,000 and is a major of c. difficile infections, which can be provoked by antibiotics and which results in 250,000 hospitalizations annually.
In an accompanying invited commentary, Brad Spellberg, MD, of the Lieu Vaccine Center in Torrance, CA, wrote that "new ideas, such as the simple and gentle public commitment concept Meeker and colleagues have developed, are needed to work in concert with traditional approaches to help us change the future state of antibiotic resistance."
The researchers say they are working on several follow-up studies, one of which attempts to understand reasons why physicians prescribe antibiotics for patients who do not have a bacterial infections, such as, pressure from patients.