Treatment of Acute Bronchitis and its Impact on Return Emergency Department Visits

Published:February 27, 2022DOI:



      Antibiotics are not recommended in healthy, uncomplicated adults for the treatment of acute bronchitis, yet are still often prescribed. No randomized studies have examined whether prescribing antibiotics in the emergency department (ED) impacts hospital return rates.


      Our aim was to compare hospital return rates between those who were prescribed an antibiotic vs. those who were not prescribed an antibiotic for the treatment of acute bronchitis.


      A retrospective cohort study was completed evaluating patients aged 18–64 years who presented to a community teaching hospital ED with acute bronchitis between January 2017 and December 2019. The primary outcomes were 30-day ED return and hospital admissions from initial ED visit. The rates of ED return or readmitted were compared for patients prescribed an antibiotic for treatment of acute bronchitis vs. those patients who were not prescribed an antibiotic.


      Of the 752 patients included, 311 (41%) were prescribed antibiotics. Baseline demographics were similar between both groups. Of those prescribed an antibiotic, 26 of 311 (8.4%) returned to the hospital within 30 days compared with 33 of 441 patients (7.5%) who were not prescribed an antibiotic (odds ratio 1.13; 95% confidence interval 0.66–1.92).


      There was no association found between antibiotic therapy for treatment of acute bronchitis and return to the hospital.


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