Objective. In-depth knowledge of existing practice is required to inform interventions aimed at antibiotic prescribing quality improvement. We set out to describe the presentation, antimicrobial management and associated outcome of adults presenting in general practice with acute cough/lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) in Poland.
Methods. Observational study of 301 adults with acute cough/LRTI. Clinicians completed a case report form (CRF) describing presentation, history and management and patients completed a symptom diary for up to 28 days after consultation.
Results. Two hundred and twenty-one patients (with CRF and symptom diary completed) were analysed. The median duration of feeling unwell before presentation was 4 days. Clinicians recorded an average of eight symptoms for patients at presentation. Apart from cough, patients most commonly reported feeling generally unwell (91.9%), limitation of normal activities (80.5%), coryza (80.1%) and phlegm production (76.0%). Auscultation abnormalities were present in 55.0%. Overall, medicines were prescribed for 95.0%; 72.4% were prescribed antibiotics [mostly macrolides/lincosamides (38.8%) and amoxicillin/co-amoxiclav (36.3%)) with 11.3% advised to take antibiotics only if still necessary after a specified delay. Mucolytics were prescribed for 61.1%. Antibiotic prescription was strongly associated with a diagnosis of LRTI and the presence of auscultation abnormalities. The median duration of cough after presentation was 8 days.
Conclusions. Antibiotics continue to be frequently prescribed for acute cough/LRTI in Poland, and the decision to prescribe was strongly associated with clinicians’ findings of abnormalities on auscultation and diagnosis of LRTI. Delayed prescribing was infrequent. Mucolytics were commonly prescribed despite evidence of no effect.