Increase in antibiotic prescriptions in out-of-hours primary care in contrast to in-hours primary care prescriptions: service evaluation in a population of 600000 patients

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes


Objectives: The objective of this study was to describe the frequency and nature of antibiotic prescriptions issued by a primary care out-of-hours (OOH) service and compare time trends in prescriptions between OOH and in-hours primary care.

Methods:We performed a retrospective audit of 496931 patient contacts with the Oxfordshire OOH primary care service. Comparison of time trends in antibiotic prescriptions from OOH primary care and in-hours primary care for the same population was made using multiple linear regression models fitted to the monthly data for OOH prescriptions, OOH contacts and in-hours prescriptions between September 2010 and August 2014.

Results: Compared with the overall population contacting the OOH service, younger age, female sex and patients who were less deprived were independently correlated with an increased chance of a contact resulting in prescription of antibiotics. The majority of antibiotics were prescribed to patients contacting the service at weekends. Despite a reduction in patient contacts with the OOH service [an estimated decrease of 486.5 monthly contacts
each year (95% CI 2676.3 to 2296.8), 5.0% of the average monthly contacts], antibiotic prescriptions from this service rose during the study period [increase of 37.1 monthly prescriptions each year (95% CI 10.6–63.7), 2.5% of the average monthly prescriptions]. A matching increase was not seen for in-hours antibiotic prescriptions; the difference between the year trends was significant (Z test, P¼0.002).

Conclusions: We have demonstrated trends in prescribing that could represent a partial displacement of antibiotic prescribing from in-hours to OOH primary care. The possibility that the trends we describe are evident
nationally should be explored.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2612-2619
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2016