Practice Guidelines

ACP/CDC Provide Guidelines on the Use of Antibiotics for Acute Respiratory Tract Infection


Am Fam Physician. 2016 Dec 15;94(12):1016.

Author disclosure: No relevant financial affiliations.

Key Points for Practice

• Antibiotics are not indicated for acute uncomplicated bronchitis unless pneumonia is present.

• Group A streptococcal pharyngitis should be ruled out, and antibiotics used only if streptococcal pharyngitis is confirmed.

• Antibiotics are indicated in acute rhinosinusitis only for patients demonstrating symptoms of bacterial etiology.

• Antibiotics are not indicated for the common cold.

From the AFP Editors

Approximately one-half of outpatient antibiotic prescriptions may be inappropriate or unnecessary, imposing high economic and public health costs. The American College of Physicians (ACP) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guideline on appropriate antibiotic use in the treatment of healthy adults with acute respiratory tract infection outlines one of the medical community's top priorities. Currently, most antibiotics prescribed in the office setting are for illnesses in this category, despite evidence that they may cause harm or otherwise do not benefit patients with some of the most common infections.

Providing High-Value Care

Nonviral etiologies of acute uncomplicated bronchitis are

Author disclosure: No relevant financial affiliations.

Coverage of guidelines from other organizations does not imply endorsement by AFP or the AAFP.

This series is coordinated by Sumi Sexton, MD, Associate Deputy Editor.

A collection of Practice Guidelines published in AFP is available at


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