Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Are Antiobiotics Overprescribed?

My opinion:  I'm amazed to discover that about 50% of prescribed antibiotics are not necessary, although maybe not too surprised - it seems as if many, many patients in this country are not treated correctly.  Part of this might have to do with the patients themselves.  As more and more doctors allow for shared decision making, patients may choose to get antibiotics for viral infections, even though these medications cannot possibly work.  But the problem is even greater - by using antibiotics too often, we are left with bacteria that are aptly called "superbugs" as they are resistant to most antibiotics.  Though shared decision making might have its benefits, this is one area in which the doctors must make a firm decision:  If the infection isn't bacterial, do not let the patient have antibiotics.  Since other Western countries have this better under control, would it help if we used them as examples?  Do they make the same use of shared decision making in these countries?  Feel free to comment.

CLEVELAND, Ohio-- Every parent has struggled with a sick child's lingering cough or painful ears during cold season and wondered: Does he need an antibiotic? Most people have asked the same question about their own symptoms at one time or another. Wouldn't this hacking cough, this sinus pain, this earache go away more quickly if I took the drug?
Most of the time, the answer is no. Recent research on ear infections, bronchitis and sinus infections suggests that antibiotics are unhelpful in the majority of cases, and may in fact do more harm than good.
Yet many people still demand the drugs for their children and for themselves, and many doctors willingly oblige.

Is It Necessary?

    One of a series of occasional features examining commonly accepted medical practices and procedures.
Antibiotic use has fallen in the United States over the past 10 years, but is still among the highest levels in any Western country. About half of those antibiotic prescriptions are probably unnecessary, according to doctors and research on the topic.
The result: nothing short of a national and global public health crisis. In March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned of another type of "nightmare" multidrug-resistant bacteria that traveled from a single health care facility to others in at least 42 states and doesn't respond to available antibiotics. Two years ago, a similar superbug killed 12 people after striking a National Institutes of Health health care center.

From: http://www.cleveland.com/healthfit/index.ssf/2013/06/antibiotics_are_commonly_presc.html

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