This guideline covers prescribing antibiotics in primary care to children (aged 3 months and older), young people and adults with self-limiting respiratory tract infections (RTIs). It provides practical strategies for prescribing, including identifying when immediate antibiotics are needed and when to offer a delayed prescription or reassurance alone. It covers identifying who is at risk of serious illness but not investigations or further care for people needing immediate antibiotics.
This guideline includes recommendations on:
- antibiotic management strategies for respiratory tract infections
- identifying patients who are likely to be at risk of developing complications
Who is it for?
- Healthcare professionals
- Commissioners and providers
- People with self-limiting respiratory tract infections and their families and carers
Is this guideline up to date?
We checked this guideline in February 2014. We identified no majorstudies that will affect the recommendations in the next 3–5 years.
Next review: January 2019
Guideline development process
This guideline was previously called respiratory tract infections – antibiotic prescribing: prescribing of antibiotics for self-limiting respiratory tract infections in adults and children in primary care.
The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or service users. The application of the recommendations in this guideline is not mandatory and the guideline does not override the responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or their carer or guardian.
Local commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual health professionals and their patients or service users wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.
Commissioners and providers have a responsibility to promote an environmentally sustainable health and care system and should assess and reduce the environmental impact of implementing NICE recommendations wherever possible.