Antibiotics Overused Due to Patient Demand and Physician Acquiescence
As the winter season approaches, many remember that colds, flus and allergies are lurking in the months ahead. For some, winter means strep throat, a bacterial infection responsible for severe soreness and discomfort. Strep throat is usually treated with antibiotics, which kill streptococcal bacteria and prevent the spread of the infection to others. Antibiotics are extremely popular with strep sufferers because they help bring relief by eliminating the cause of the infection instead of simply masking symptoms.
Too much of a good thing
While most patients view antibiotics as a cure-all for any cold-like condition they acquire, the bottom line is that they can’t improve the situation in most sore throat sufferers and in cases of bronchitis. As a result, healthcare advocates have worked for years to get doctors to stop unnecessarily prescribing antibiotics. Despite these efforts, little progress has been made against overprescription.
For sore throats, emergency room and primary care physicians prescribe antibiotics about 60 percent of the time. According to certain experts, an appropriate rate of prescription would be about 10 percent, matching the number of actual cases of strep throat. Even more troubling, antibiotics are prescribed about 70 percent of the time for patients with acute bronchitis, despite the fact that they rarely help and only fight the onset of complications such as pneumonia.
Much like other medications, antibiotics can cause nausea, diarrhea, headache and vomiting. But the relatively mild discomfort that accompanies these side effects is nothing compared to serious problems that may arise, such as enhanced risk of sudden cardiac death. Furthermore, antibiotic overprescription can cause development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers antibiotic resistance to be one of the most serious public health threats in the world because the resistant infections they create are more dangerous and costly to treat.
If medical treatment has resulted in pain and suffering for you, contact a knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer to hold responsible the parties that caused your injuries.