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Provider and patient drivers of ototopical antibiotic prescription variability.

OBJECTIVE: To determine if providers prescribe more affordable topical antibacterial therapy for patients who are economically disadvantaged or come from economically disadvantaged communities.

STUDY DESIGN: Prescription drug database review.

SETTING: Large academic hospital network.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Ototopical prescription records of 2416 adults and children presenting with acute and chronic otologic infections from 2009 to 2013 were reviewed. Prescription, patient, provider, and institution variables including diagnosis, prescription type, demographics, health insurance status, healthcare provider type and setting were analyzed.

RESULTS: Otitis externa and acute otitis media were the most common diagnoses. Non-OHNS (Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery) providers served 82% of all patients. OHNS providers prescribed proportionally less fluoroquinolone, and more brand-name antibiotics compared to non-OHNS providers. Adults were more likely to receive a non-fluoroquinolone antibiotic and a generic prescription versus pediatric patients. Patients who self-identified as 'white' ethnicity received proportionally more fluoroquinolone prescriptions than patients who identified as 'non-white,' but there was no difference in provider type. The proportion of fluoroquinolone prescriptions was significantly higher in patients from low-poverty counties, however poverty level was not associated with patients seeing a particular provider type. The majority of our patients had commercial insurance, followed by Medicaid. Medicare patients had the lowest proportion of fluoroquinolone antibiotic prescriptions, and were less likely to receive fluoroquinolone prescriptions versus commercial insurance. Non-insured patients received proportionally more generic versus brand prescriptions than insured patients.

CONCLUSION: Our results indicate potential provider, patient demographic, and financial factors producing considerable variability in the prescribing patterns for topical antibiotics for common otologic infections.

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