Controlling Antibiotic Use Can Help Prevent the Spread of Infections
Controlling Antibiotic Use Can Help
Prevent the Spread of Infections
Does the body always need antibiotics? Research
indicates that the answer is “probably not”. But that
does not stop the physician from
prescribing antibiotics if the
patient has a really bad flu or the
uncomfortable common cold. They do so even if
they know that it’s not going to make any
difference. Repeated and improper use of antibiotics
is the main reasons for the increase in drug-
resistant bacteria, say experts.
Do You Really Need Antibiotics?
Is this hard to believe? Research by the American
Medical Association reveals that acute bronchitis
has been considered to warrant the prescription of
antibiotics by doctors for around 70% of the cases
in spite of evidence that demonstrates the
powerlessness of these drugs to fight respiratory
disorders. Research presented at IDWeek 2013
revealed that acute bronchitis cannot be effectively
treated by antibiotics. But antibiotics have been
prescribed for bronchitis at a rate of around 73% in
America for 30 years.
Maybe it’s because patients already expect that
they need antibiotic dosage even before they reach
the doctor’s place, and the doctors probably play in
to the psychology while providing consulting
service. But it does cause damage in the long run.
According to an expert, research provides clear
evidence that prescription of antibiotics needs to be
as low as possible. But despite guidelines and
educational efforts, this advice is rarely heeded by
Antibiotics are for Bacteria, not Viruses
Patients should educate themselves on the use of
antibiotics and know when they are needed and
when they will not help. For instance, influenza and
the common cold are the result of virus attacks, and
antibiotics which are for killing bacteria, cannot help
with these conditions. So when common cold
strikes, the best remedy is rest and intake of lots of
fluids combined with some over-the-counter
medicines just to alleviate the symptoms such as
headache and fever. The cold would finish running
its course in around a week.
While flu can be prevented with vaccination,
patients can ask for some antiviral drug from their
doctor to speed up recovery. Sore throat isn’t
always a condition that requires antibiotics.
According to research published in JAMA Internal
Medicine, only 10% of adults with sore throat have
strep which is the specific condition that requires an
antibiotic prescription. However, the study points
out that antibiotic are prescribed in 60% of sore
Antibiotics Creating Drug-resistant
Excessive use of antibiotics could result in the
creation of what’s called ‘superbugs’ in the body
that are resistant to drugs. The CDC (Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention) has come up with
some startling figures. It turns out that there are
over 2 million people who contract infections
resistant to antibiotics every year due to these
superbugs. The other startling fact is that around
23,000 people die each year because of the inability
of existing drugs to stop infections any longer
because of the superbugs.
While antibiotics are supposed to kill the infection
causing bacteria, there could also be other bacteria
that are killed in the process. This is bad. And that’s
not all. According to the Department of Health of
Missouri, when a patient has antibiotics, the
targeted bacteria are destroyed, but germs
resistant to the drug keep growing. Drug-resistant
germs proliferate mainly because of the wrong use
Example of Resistant Bacteria
There are certain kinds of bacteria which are
resistant naturally to some kinds of antibiotics.
Genetic mutation could make other kinds of bacteria
resistant. Gonorrhea, known for its infertility
causing effects, is caused by neisseria gonorrhoeae,
the bacteria which are resistant to drugs.
Incidentally, this is the second commonest reported
infection in America with 820,000 cases every year.
The increasing antibiotic resistance of the bacteria
has affected treatment in around 30% of the cases.
You Do Need Antibiotics, Sometimes
Though research has given compelling evidence, it
seems antibiotics cannot be avoided in all
circumstances. Some conditions, such as sinus
infection for example, could be caused by viruses,
bacteria or fungi. Most of them are viral, however,
and can be cured without antibiotics. But in the
other cases, and when symptoms get really severe
and cause nasal drainage, cough and high fever,
doctors simply cannot keep from prescribing
antibiotics. If antibiotics must be avoided, the
patient must be asked to wait for a week to see if
the symptoms and infection subsides. But this could
also make the situation worse, which is why
antibiotics are necessary.
Ear infections are another example of the
unavoidability of antibiotics. They can be the result
of virus or bacteria attacks, and only culturing the
ear fluid by puncturing the eardrum could
determine what caused the infection. Since that’s
an invasive procedure physicians put patients on an
antibiotic treatment without going for the culture,
which is often what patients prefer as well. Waiting
for the infection to get cured on its own could do
more harm than good. Proper documentation in
EMR or via medical transcription is critical while
monitoring the patient.
Be Aware and Communicate with Your Doctor
Patient awareness and better physician-patient
communication can help control the way antibiotics
are used and make care processes more efficient.
Prevention is better than cure. So prevent infection
with good hand hygiene and safe food-handling. Do
consult your doctor if you feel unwell, but do not
take left over medications or share antibiotics. If
you are in hospital, ask doctors and other health
care personnel coming into the room if they have
washed their hands.
Physicians should not prescribe antibiotics when you
know they will not work. Accurate documentation
while diagnosing is necessary to be able to manage
the data. This allows the coders to provide the
correct medical coding as well.
As a patient, you should demand fewer antibiotics.
You need to communicate with your physician. For
instance, if you have a sore throat, you should ask
your physician to confirm that you have strep
before prescribing an antibiotic. You should also
make sure that the doctor’s diagnosis and
prescriptions have been made based on a physical
exam and lab test.
The Physician Has his Work Cut Out
The physician’s responsibility is quite great in that
he calls the shots in ensuring the health and
wellbeing of patients. Proper intervention of the
problem with managed care is very necessary to
ensure patients respond to treatments properly in