Antibiotic Use by Members of the American Association of Endodontists in the Year 2000: Report of a National Survey

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The purpose of this study was to determine the prescribing habits of active members of the American Association of Endodontists (AAE) with regard to antibiotics.A one-page, double-sided questionnaire was sent to the active members of the AAE living in the United States. The 1999 mailing list of 3203 members was obtained from the AAE, and the return rate was 50.1% (1606 surveys). With a sample size over 1000, the study was able to distinguish differences to within 0.5% with power = 80% (at alpha = 5%). The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and chi-square tests of independence. Penicillin VK, 500 mg, 4 times a day, was the first choice antibiotic prescribed by 61.48% of respondents. Clindamycin (Cleocin®), 150 mg, 4 times a day, was selected by 29.59%. For those patients with a penicillin allergy, 57.03% prescribed clindamycin and various erythromycin preparations were prescribed by 26.65%. A loading dose was used by 85.14%. The average duration of antibiotic therapy was 7.58 days. Those respondents involved in academics, either part-time or full-time, were significantly more likely to prescribe penicillin VK, 500 mg, 4 times a day at a rate of 85% versus those in part-time or full-time private practice at a rate of 67%. For cases of irreversible pulpitis, 16.76% of responding endodontists prescribed antibiotics. For the scenario of a necrotic pulp, acute apical periodontitis, and no swelling, 53.93% prescribed antibiotics. Almost 12% prescribed antibiotics for necrotic pulps with chronic apical periodontitis and a sinus tract. For the most part, the majority of the members of the AAE were selecting the appropriate antibiotic for use in orofacial infections, but there are still many who are prescribing antibiotics inappropriately. Although there were trends of improvement in some areas with regards to prescribing antibiotics, there were other areas where there had been no improvement in 25 years. Unless these trends change, our generation and those to come may not have effective antibiotics for use in the management of true orofacial infections.

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