While there is evidence of high use of wide-spectrum antibiotics in children evaluated in the pediatric emergency departments, determinants of this behavior are still unclear. This study was aimed at defining the demographic, social, clinical, and laboratory factors that affect antibiotic prescriptions in children discharged from the emergency department. We performed a retrospective observational study of children aged younger than 18 years discharged from a pediatric university hospital between Jan. 1, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2020. We determined the proportion and type of antibiotic prescription according to demographic, social, clinical, laboratory, and imaging data, as well as doctor’s expertise. Fifty-one thousand six hundred thirty-three children were included, and 13,167 (25.5%) received an antibiotic prescription. Amoxicilline/clavulanate (Am/Cl) was the most prescribed antibiotic (8453, 64.2% of all prescriptions). Factors independently associated with an antibiotic prescription were older age (OR = 1.62 [1.53–1.73] for age 2–5 years, OR = 1.77 [1.64–1.91] for age 6–10 years, OR = 1.36 [1.25–1.49] for age 11–18 years, p < 0.001 for all groups); being evaluated by a physician with > 3 years of pediatric expertise (OR = 1.22 [1.13–1.31], p < 0.001); fever peak higher than 40 °C (OR = 1.37 [1.21–1.54], p < 0.001); abnormal findings on auscultation (OR = 1.95 [1.75–2.17], p < 0.001), CRP values (OR = 1.63 [1.26–2.10] for CRP < 50 mg/L, and OR = 3.78 (2.75–5.21) for CRP ≥ 50 mg/L with respect to CRP not requested; p < 0.01); CXR results whatever positive (OR = 4.47 [3.62–5.52], p < 0.001) or negative (1.82 [1.62–2.04], p < 0.001); being diagnosed with upper respiratory tract infections (OR = 4.27 [4.04–4.51], p < 0.001), lower respiratory tract infections (OR = 5.35 [4.88–5.85]; p < 0.001), and UTI (OR = 9.33 [8.14–10.71], p < 0.001). Conclusions: Overprescription of antibiotics, including Am/Cl, is relevant in pediatric emergency departments. Factors associated with overprescription are not limited to the clinical characteristics of the treated patients. These findings highlight the need for a new and comprehensive approach to ensure successful antibiotic stewardship initiatives in the emergency departments.What is Known:• Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem in medical practice, including in pediatrics.• Antibiotics are overprescribed in children assessed in the emergency department, but comprehensive and large studies are lacking.What is New:• Factors associated with overprescription are not limited to the clinical characteristics of the patients.• Non-clinical factors such as environmental variables, doctor’s expertise, and attitudes to laboratory and radiological examinations affect prescription.
- Emergency department