Oral antibiotic prescription patterns for dental conditions at two public sector hospitals in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal
Antibiotic resistance is a growing public health concern. Yet, there is a paucity of published data in KwaZulu-Natal on antibiotic prescription trends and patterns related to dental use. The objectives of this study were to identify the range of dental conditions for which oral antibiotics are prescribed at two public health settings (Institution A and B) in the Pietermaritzburg Complex, KwaZulu-Natal and to explore practitioner understanding of the indications for antibiotic prescription for dental conditions. The study used a two-phased approach and collected a combination of qualitative and quantitative data. Phase 1 comprised a retrospective clinical chart review (n=720), while phase 2 comprised a focus-group discussion with purposively selected health care practitioners at each
institution. The results of the retrospective clinical chart review indicated that dental abscesses were the most common dental
infections requiring oral antibiotic therapy (n= 479; 66%), followed by acute alveolar osteitis (dry socket) (n=110; 15%),
dental impactions (n=78; 11%) and dental extractions (n=62; 9%). At Institution A, antibiotic therapy was prescribed for conditions such as trismus (n=13; 6%), soft palate swelling of unspecified origin (n=9; 4%), fibrous epulis (n=6; 3%) and acute herpes simplex (n=2; 1%). Interestingly, antibiotics were not prescribed at Institution B for the same dental conditions. Antibiotic therapy was also prescribed for eruption pain (n=4; 1%) and for cases when patients did not bring their inhaler for asthma treatment (pump) (n=3; 1%). The findings from the focus-group discussions suggested that there is a need to improve practitioner understanding of the indications for
antibiotic prescriptions for dental conditions. This study showed some differences in antibiotic therapy prescription patterns at the two public health institutions, especially for dental conditions that did not require such management. This suggests a need for consensus building among health professionals and the provision of more dedicated guidance for antibiotic prescription in the management of dental conditions.
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