What measurement means for sore throat care

Although sore throats can be very uncomfortable, antibiotics generally do not help the symptoms. The exception is sore throats caused by bacteria – such as strep throat. Recommended care for a sore throat in children includes testing for bacteria to see if an antibiotic is needed before prescribing one.

It is important to treat a strep infection with antibiotics. Untreated strep infections can cause serious health problems such as ear infections, abscessed tonsils and scarlet fever. But taking antibiotics when you don't need them can cause more harm than good. A serious problem with using antibiotics when they aren't needed is something called "drug resistance." Bacteria that are drug-resistant are hard for antibiotics to kill, and can cause very serious infections.

Other helpful home care for most sore throats includes rest, drinking fluids, gargling with warm salt water, sucking on throat lozenges or frozen treats, sipping chicken broth or warm tea with honey, using a humidifier, and taking over-the-counter pain relievers.

The statewide rate of appropriate treatment for sore throats in children by all reporting medical groups is 89%. This means 89 of 100 children with sore throats between ages 2 and 18 received recommended care that included a strep test and antibiotics, if appropriate.

Higher rates of appropriate care for sore throats can be a sign of strong performance in clinical care. It’s important to know that small differences in percentages don’t necessarily reflect the quality of care you’ll receive with a certain medical group or clinic. It is more important to note the large differences between providers, and speak with your doctor if you have questions or concerns.

How we calculate the measure

The sore throats measure shows how well medical groups and clinics performed in giving recommended care to children with sore throats between ages 2 and 18.

This measure is evaluated annually. The current data is based on information collected from health plan billing data for 2014 dates of service. The information is collected under the measure name Appropriate Testing for Children with Pharyngitis.