Respiratory tract infections (self-limiting): prescribing antibiotics

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

Most people presenting in primary care with an acute uncomplicated respiratory tract infection (RTI) will still receive an antibiotic prescription—with many doctors and patients believing that this is the right thing to do.

Evidence shows that antibiotics have limited effectiveness in treating a large proportion of RTIs in adults and children, and complications are likely to be rare if antibiotics are withheld. General practice consultation rates in England and Wales show that a quarter of the population will visit their GP because of an RTI each year and they are the reason for 60% of all antibiotic prescribing in general practice.

This Guidelines summary highlights the key points in a care pathway.

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