Antibiotics Being Overprescribed

There have been repeated warnings that antibiotics usually don’t do the trick when it comes to most sore throats and bronchitis.  Yet, researchers have found that for over a decade doctors have kept prescribing antibiotics for these cases.

It has been shown that the rate of these prescriptions have only dropped about 10%, possibly less, since the 90’s.  They are still being given to sore-throat patients at 60% of primary-care and emergency rooms.

Antibiotics should only be used when they are really needed.  The side effects can include stomach pain and diarrhea, among others. The scariest byproduct of antibiotics are drug-resistant germs that can’t be killed later.  By inappropriately prescribing, we are all being put at risk.  This isn’t to say they should never be used.  Of course, sometimes they’re needed.  For everyone’s health in the long-run, doctors must better differentiate in which cases antibiotics are necessary, and in which they’re of no use.

President of the American Academy of Family Physicians, Dr. Reid Blackwelder, thinks a big part of the problem is simply old prescribing habits that haven’t changed.  Evidence now shows that most sore throats, bronchitis, flu, and colds are caused by a virus, whereas antibiotics only treat bacteria.  It seems that a lot of doctors are having trouble adjusting to this new knowledge, and continue to prescribe the wrong drugs.  The process for changing this practice has been “frustratingly, disappointingly slow,” said Dr. Jeffrey Linder, a physician/researcher at Harvard Medical School.  Dr. Linder also does work for Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and performed the research with Dr. Michael Barnett.

Dr. Blackwelder mentions that another factor could possibly be the doctors’ time crunch, especially when compared to the patients’ demands.  “It’s often easier to prescribe an antibiotic than to take time to explain why they don’t work for some illnesses,” he said.

Another doctor, Dr. Ed Septimus, who is also professor at Texas A&M, believes that development of faster germ-identifying tests could help the issue.  If the germs that cause sore throats or bronchitis could be tested quicker, it would save time for the doctors, while giving easy “proof” to the patients of what they’re dealing with.

Keep in mind that antibiotics can be useful in treating strep bacteria, which only about 10% of sore throats are from.  In addition, there are some rare cases of bronchitis that are caused by bacteria.

Have you been given an incorrect prescription?  Or, maybe you’ve taken a drug that has now been recalled?  If you’ve been harmed by any medication, please contact the Chicago personal injury team at GWC !  We want to make sure you’re compensated for what you’ve been through. Give us a call!