Pharyngitis is commonly diagnosed in the emergency department (ED) and accounts for substantial antibiotic burden in pediatrics. This study describes ED patterns of group A streptococcal (GAS) pharyngitis diagnosis and antibiotic prescribing patterns. This was a secondary data analysis of the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. Diagnosis and antibiotic treatment for GAS and non-GAS (viral) pharyngitis were reported in all ages and specifically examined in children <3 years of age from 2010 to 2015. GAS pharyngitis was diagnosed in 29% of visits for children with pharyngitis; however, 60% of patients with any pharyngitis received antibiotics. Twenty percent of children <3 years were diagnosed with GAS pharyngitis, yet over half were given antibiotics. Broad-spectrum antibiotics were commonly prescribed. Antibiotic treatment of pharyngitis, including broad-spectrum antibiotics, remains high when compared with the known prevalence of GAS pharyngitis. Diagnosis and treatment of GAS pharyngitis in patients <3 years persists despite recommendations against testing.

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