Children may be overprescribed antibiotics in online doctor visits: Study

Kids with the sniffles and sore throats who were seeing an online doctor were far more likely to be prescribed antibiotics than those who went in to a doctor’s office or a clinic.

A new study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and colleagues, which was published in Pediatrics, found that more than half of children seeking online care for acute respiratory infections, including sinusitis, strep throat or bronchiolitis, were prescribed antibiotics, compared with 42 percent at urgent care clinics and 31 percent at visiting doctors’ offices.

Family medicine Dr. Mikhail Varshavski said children need to see a doctor in person which will help identify the problem and its best solution instead of a telemedicine visit.

“When you do a telemedicine visit, you don’t do a proper physical exam. You end up practicing what is known as CYA medicine- ‘cover your butt medicine’ you start worrying about the legal ramifications ‘will I see this patient a follow-up? Will this patient get better? Am I missing something because I haven’t looked in the child’s ear through a physical exam?’ and you prescribe unnecessary antibiotics,” he told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo on Wednesday.

Many of the prescriptions disregarded medical guidelines, raising the risk children may become resistant to antibiotics.

“Antibiotics have serious adverse reactions; diarrhea, anaphylaxis, allergies, rashes. We don’t give these medications without discussing the risks and benefits and only when they’re properly indicated,” Dr. Varshavski said.


A telemedicine visit may come in handy when on vacation or the convenience of not having to leave your home.

“If your child has a strep throat and you’re on vacation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they need antibiotics,” Dr. Varshavski said. “In fact, by the majority, they won’t need antibiotics. When we prescribe antibiotics for a strep throat, it’s not even for the strep throat. It’s for the complications of the strep throat.”