Tired GPs prescribing more antibiotics

A US study has found that as the working day grinds on, primary care doctors are increasingly likely to prescribe antibiotics inappropriately.

A research group from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston hypothesised that medical professionals repeatedly making decisions about patient care may sooner or later 'hit the wall' and start taking the easy way out.

Psychologists refer to an erosion of self-control leading to “decision fatigue” and this applies to other professionals as well, such as judges who, research has found, are more likely to deny parole towards the end of the day, they said.

In a study of primary care practices, the Boston researchers evaluated data on nearly 22,000 visits to 204 clinicians in 23 practices, of which 44% resulted in antibiotic prescriptions.

They analysed visits for acute respiratory infections (ARI), as research shows unnecessary antibiotics for ARI were often prescribed to satisfy