Day-care providers demand GPs prescribe unnecessary antibiotics

GPs are being forced to carry out unnecessary consultations because many day-care centres insist children take antibiotics before being allowed back after an illness, a study shows.

Antibiotics: warning over child day-care providers' policies
Antibiotics: warning over child day-care providers' policies

Parents have reported feeling forced to seek antibiotic treatment for their children so they can continue to attend day-care, regardless of whether they actually require the treatment, researchers said.

Many reported that day-care providers set strict policies – sometimes in writing – compelling parents to seek antibiotic treatments so their children will be allowed back.

The study, conducted in south-east Wales, interviewed parents of preschool children and day-care providers.

Unnecessary GP consultations

The authors warned this could result in unnecessary GP consultations and put pressure on GPs to prescribe antibiotics unnecessarily, adding to growing antibiotic-resistance problems.

More than half of parents said they had visited a GP and received antibiotics for their child when they were excluded from day-care due to illness.

Half of these parents admitted that they had sought antibiotics solely to enable their children to be readmitted to day-care.

Many reported that day-care providers would only allow them to readmit their children if they could show that they were taking antibiotics, regardless of whether the symptoms of illness persisted.
Preschool-aged children are the highest consumers of antibiotics, despite the fact that they consult mainly for viral infections.

Parents advised to demand antibiotics

The authors also sent out a survey to over 300 day-care providers, such as nursery managers and childminders, of which 217 replied.

Two out of five day-care providers said that they had recommended parents to seek antibiotics when children under their care were ill.

The study also revealed that 93% of day-care providers have advised parents to take their children to visit their GP if they appeared to be ill.

Follow-up interviews confirmed that such advice was routine, and beliefs about antibiotic indications among day-care providers was often poorly understood or went against clinical guidelines.

The authors of the study, which was published in the British Journal of General Practice, said: ‘Day-care providers encourage parents to consult general practice and seek antibiotics through non-evidence-based policies and practices.’

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