Clinical case study

Otitis media: clarifying the role of antibiotics

Weigh up the need for antibiotics with two different cases of acute otitis media in this free case study.

  • Cost: free

Otitis media antibiotics


This activity has been approved for 2 points (CPD Activity) under the RACGP CPD Program for the 2020–2022 triennium (activity: 192613)

This activity has been accredited for 1 hour under the educational activity category in the ACRRM PD Program for the 2020–2022 triennium (activity: 19458)



Two children with otitis media – are antibiotics required for either?

Oliver, a 5-year-old boy with a cold, has been complaining of a sore left ear since last night.

Charlotte, a 14-month-old girl who has also had a cold for several days, has been very irritable overnight. She woke up more lethargic than normal and is refusing to eat.

How would you assess these patients? What would your initial treatment recommendation be? How would you weigh up the need for antibiotics?

Complete this online case study to receive instant feedback on your responses and compare your approach with your peers. Includes expert commentary provided by Professor Chris Del Mar.


Learning outcomes

By completing this case study you will be able to:

  • outline recommended pharmacological management of acute otitis media (AOM)
  • assess the need for antibiotic therapy in patients with AOM
  • reassure patients and/or their carers that in most cases, AOM can be adequately managed without antibiotics
  • recognise appropriate prevention strategies for AOM
  • deliver appropriate management of AOM using risk factor assessment and shared decision making with the patient and/or their carer.