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Antibiotic Overuse

This is not a new issue by any means. However, it seems even though we have been discussing the overuse of antibiotics for many years now, and changes don't seem to be occurring.

Over at
MedScape.com they recently published an interview between Medscape authors and the CDC on November, 30th 2010.

The CDC was quoted as saying, "It is estimated that roughly 50% of antibiotics are unnecessarily prescribed in both inpatient and office settings."

The most common reasons for this abuse the CDC states are "lack of time, perceived patient expectations, and diagnostic uncertainty. For example, prescribing an antibiotic can be quicker than taking the time to counsel a patient on appropriate use and about why antibiotics are not needed for viral illnesses."

The CDC explains that these 4 communication strategies can be used to help prevent patient requests for an inappropriate antibiotic or to respond to such requests:

1. Provide a specific diagnosis to help patients feel validated. For example, say "viral bronchitis" instead of referring to an illness as "just a virus."

2. Recommend symptomatic relief and share normal findings as you go through your examination.

3. Discuss potential side effects of antibiotic use, including adverse effects and resistance. Many patients don't realize that antibiotics can be harmful.

4. Lastly, explain to the patient or parent what to expect over the next few days -- including that you will reevaluate their situation and prescribe antibiotics if it becomes medically appropriate.

So, what does this all mean in the end? Well first, we as patients, need to stop requesting antibiotics when we have things like colds, coughs etc. Then second, as medical professionals we need to not be swayed by the persistent patient that keeps asking for medicine.

We may make some patients upset, but in the long run it is better for everyone.

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