(UPI) – A blood test may cut back on needless antibiotic prescriptions for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a new study says.

The number of COPD patients who received antibiotics prescriptions fell by 20 percent after taking the finger-prick blood test to measure their C-reactive protein levels, according to research published Thursday in New England Journal of Medicine.

More than 11 million people in the United States are living with COPD, according to the American Lung Association.

“This is a patient population that is often considered to be at high risk from not receiving antibiotics, but we were able to achieve a reduction in antibiotic use that is about twice the magnitude of that achieved by most other antimicrobial stewardship interventions, and demonstrate that this approach was safe,” Nick Francis, a researcher from the Cardiff University School of Medicine and study author, said in a news release.

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