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A retrospective study conducted across 28 urgent care clinics in Utah found an estimated rate of pneumonia overdiagnosis in urgent care clinics of 30%. The authors arrived at the estimate by examining a group of 7,214 patients’ pneumonia diagnoses recorded from January 2019 through December 2020 in the urgent care centers and comparing them with subsequent diagnoses in an emergency department (ED) or hospital. Of the urgent care patients who were later seen in an ED or had a hospital admission, 80% of those with imaging-confirmed pneumonia had their pneumonia diagnosis confirmed. Researchers also considered those with no imaging done and those with imaging-negative pneumonia. The study appears in Open Forum Infectious Diseases this month. Of patients diagnosed with pneumonia in the urgent care clinics, 7.7% experienced an ED encounter, and 4.5% experienced a hospital admission within 1 week of diagnosis. More than 93% of patients with pneumonia were treated with antibiotics—such as amoxicillin, amoxicillin-clavulanate, doxycycline, or cefdinir—including patients without radiographic confirmation. 

Stay sharp: Patients who did not have chest imaging and ultimately were diagnosed as having pneumonia presented similarly to patients with cough/acute bronchitis, according to the authors. Also of note, the study examined patient records prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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