A new study discovered that over 60 percent of doctors are using antibiotics that are far too strong for the infection they are treating. Additionally, many antibiotics are prescribed for infections that are not bacterial in nature so the antibiotic cannot actually treat the virus.
The study, published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy focused on 238,000 adults that visited a doctor through medical offices, outpatient clinics and emergency rooms over a two-year period. They found that “broad spectrum” drugs accounted for 61 percent of all antibiotic prescriptions. The broad spectrum drugs are capable of killing a number of different types of bacteria, but also come with a host of unpleasant side effects on their own.
While the study analyzed adults, researchers found the same to be true for children. Study senior author, Dr. Adam Hersh, infectious disease expert and assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah School of Medicine, said, "Many antibiotics prescribed for children are unnecessary, particularly for conditions caused by viruses, where antibiotics don't help at all. Even when an antibiotic is indicated, such as for strep throat or ear infection, physicians often prescribe an antibiotic such as a Z-Pak, which can be less effective than amoxicillin."
“Antibiotic overuse among children and adults is a serious problem and a threat to everyone’s health” said study co-author Dr. Lauri Hicks, a medical epidemiologist at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the University of California, San Francisco. “The biggest problem with using antibiotics when they’re not needed is the development of antibiotic resistance which is when new bacteria survive by outsmarting the antibiotics.”
The prevalence of antibiotic resistant bacterial infections is on the rise in Virginia and researchers believe it is in direct relation to the amount of antibiotics prescribed by doctors. In addition to increasing the likelihood of creating antibiotic resistant bacteria, antibiotics can destroy the good bacteria in the digestive system, which is not good for the immune system. So if an antibiotic is unnecessary, it really is doing more damage than good. The researchers said that in the end, doctors are over-prescribing medications that are far too powerful. If a doctor prescribes an antibiotic knowing that a virus is not bacterial, it is simply medical neglect.
Researchers urged patients to ask their doctor if they really need an antibiotic and if it is needed, whether that specific antibiotic is the best choice for their type of infection.
If you or a loved one have ever suffered ill effects from an overly powerful antibiotic, contact the Virginia medical malpractice attorneys at Shevlin Smith. Our Fairfax lawyers have the knowledge and experience to fight for you. Call (703) 721-4233 today.