Physicians are often prone to prescribe antibiotics to patients but is this the best treatment option? Research shows that it might be counterproductive.
CBS News reports on antibiotics.
With antibiotic resistant bacteria becoming more and more of a concern, many experts are saying that prescribing antibiotics is not the best course of action.
Antibiotic resistant bacteria have actually led to thousands of deaths in the U.S. each year. “Doctors prescribing antibiotics unnecessarily is a big contributor to the problem, and now a new analysis of government data quantifies just how big that problem is,” according to CBS News. The study was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The new research showed that around 30 percent of outpatient oral antibiotic prescriptions in the U.S. from 2010 to 2011 were probably unwarranted. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that antibiotic-resistant infections affect 2 million people and lead to about 23,000 deaths every year.
Using antibiotics is the main cause of resistance and can lead to dangerous consequences such as allergic reactions. Dr. Katherine E. Fleming-Dutra, of the CDC, commented on the study. She said, “Antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent public health threats of our time; antibiotics are life-saving medicines that treat bacterial infections, but antibiotic resistance has emerged and the use of antibiotics is the single most important factor leading to resistance.”
How was the study conducted?
Fleming-Dutra and her research team scrutinized two CDC national surveys that looked at outpatient visits at hospital clinics and emergency departments to decipher the rates of oral antibiotic prescribing by age and diagnosis, as well as the proportion that may have been prescribed in an inappropriate manner.
The study was comprehensive consisting of over 184,000 visits, about 13% of those resulted in antibiotic prescriptions being given. The researchers defined ‘inappropriate antibiotic use’ as that which was administered for an illness that cannot be treated by antibiotics, such as the common cold.
How did they figure out whether the antibiotic use was unnecessary?
The team utilized national guidelines of appropriate levels antibiotic prescribing by age group. The researchers found that across the country around 30% of antibiotic prescriptions were unnecessary. Fleming-Dutra said, “This equates to about 47 million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions written every year in the United States.”
Many experts are applauding the study. Dr. Pranita Tamma, an assistant professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, called the study a ‘wake-up call’ for doctors who prescribe antibiotics in an outpatient environment. She also said, “There are a lot of locations where antibiotics are prescribed that were not included in the study; places like urgent care centers, retail clinics, telephone encounters, and dental offices.”