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Review: delayed or immediate antibiotic prescriptions have similar clinical outcomes in respiratory infections

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G Spurling

Dr G Spurling, Royal Brisbane Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia;


What is the relative effectiveness of delayed, immediate, or no antibiotic (AB) prescriptions for acute respiratory infections?


Data sources:

Medline (1966 to January 2007), EMBASE/Excerpta Medica (1990–2007), Cochrane Library (Issue 4, 2006), Current Contents–ISI Web of Knowledge (1998 to January 2007), and reference lists.

Study selection and assessment:

randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that compared prescriptions of delayed ABs (>48 h) with immediate ABs or no ABs for acute respiratory tract infections (sore throat, otitis media, or common cold) in patients of any age. 9 RCTs met the selection criteria and had quality scores ⩾6 out of 11 (high quality).


included clinical outcomes (pain, fever, malaise, or cough), AB use, and patient satisfaction.


Sore throat: delayed …

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  • Source of funding: General Practice Education and Training Australia.