Unwarranted Antibiotic Prescriptions Contribute to Rise of Antibiotic ResistanceJanuary 13, 2020
Antibiotics are the gold standard for treating various types of viruses, from ear infections and strep throat to meningitis and pneumonia. Oftentimes, patients will feel significantly better after one or two doses of the antibiotic, although it is important to complete the number of doses recommended by the prescribing physician. However, physicians will write prescriptions for antibiotics without a valid reason to do so. In fact, according to a study that was published recently in the BMJ, 18 percent of antibiotic prescriptions were written, even though there was no documented reason. Unfortunately, this can have a serious impact on antibiotic resistance, a global public health issue.
Overprescribing antibiotics has a number of potentially serious consequences. Like any drug, antibiotics can have a range of side effects, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite. Writing a prescription for an antibiotic for a patient who may not actually need it exposes them to these side effects. More importantly, it contributes to the very serious problem of antibiotic resistance, which occurs when disease-causing bacteria change and evolve, and are able to fight off the drugs that had been effective at killing them.
Significance of Study Findings
The study is particularly important because it examines the frequency of unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions outside of hospitals and other inpatient care facilities. In fact, it is the first study to look at the proportion of antibiotic prescriptions that did not have a medically acceptable reason for prescribing the drug for the patient. According to the lead researcher at Oregon State University’s College of Pharmacy, when physicians write antibiotic prescriptions without noting the indication in the patient’s medical records, this can lead to an inaccurate estimation of unnecessary prescribing. He went on the say that if an indication is not documented, it is likely that there was no indication, and that the antibiotic was not necessary.
The researchers involved in the study analyzed data from the 2015 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey to look at visits to outpatient care providers. Out of almost one billion visits that year, they hoped to learn whether antibiotic prescriptions had the appropriate indication documented, an inappropriate one, or none at all. They found the following results:
- Approximately 13 percent of ambulatory or outpatient visits included a prescription.
- Fifty-seven percent included the proper indication.
- Twenty-five percent were inappropriately indicated.
- Eighteen percent had no documented indication.
- Patients most likely to receive an antibiotic prescription without an indication documented were adult males, patients with chronic conditions, patients who spent more time with providers than the average patient, and patients who went to non-primary care specialists.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Patients Who Received Unnecessary Antibiotics
If you were prescribed an antibiotic without a documented indication, contact the Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. This can cause serious public health issues, including antibiotic resistance. We will investigate the details of your case and determine whether your health care provider was negligent in any way. Our dedicated team will secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
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