Are Antibiotics Over-Prescribed? When Should I Take Antibiotics?
The above headline comes from a May 3, 2016, article reported by CBS News. This article and several others on this subject were based on a new study released on May 3, 2016, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, (JAMA).
The title of the JAMA study was, Prevalence of Inappropriate Antibiotic Prescriptions Among US Ambulatory Care Visits, 2010-2011. The study begins by stating the importance of the study saying, The National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria set a goal of reducing inappropriate outpatient antibiotic use by 50% by 2020, but the extent of inappropriate outpatient antibiotic use is unknown.
According to the study, approximately one-third of all antibiotic prescriptions are inappropriate. The problem is that heavy usage of antibiotics has resulted in more antibiotic resistant bacteria, commonly referred to as superbugs. Because of the rise in antibiotic resistance, and the increased strength of the bacteria, more deaths due to these types of infections have been occurring. Estimates are that each year antibiotic-resistant bacteria infect 2 million Americans of which about 23,000 die.
Lead researcher, Dr. Katherine Fleming-Dutra, stated in a HealthDay news article, We were able to conclude that at least 30 percent of the antibiotics that are given in doctors’ offices, emergency departments and hospital-based clinics are unnecessary, meaning that no antibiotics were needed at all.
Fleming also noted that about half of the antibiotics given for acute respiratory infections were not needed. She stated, Nobody should be giving antibiotics for the common cold, it gets better without antibiotics.
In a companion editorial in the same issue of JAMA, Drs. Tamma and Cosgrove stated, the statement ‘If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it,’ attributed to Lord Kelvin, is of particular relevance to the field of antibiotic stewardship. Whereas the plea for optimizing how antibiotics are used in the United States has been ongoing for more than 50 years, improvement has been slow.
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