Antibiotics are a staple in the healthcare system; they are effective drugs that kill bacteria and stop them from multiplying. Antibiotics heal many common illnesses such as bladder infections, sexually transmitted diseases, boils, and ear infections. They cannot, however, cure viral diseases such as the cold or flu. Unfortunately, this standard medication is often misused by both healthcare providers and their patients.
Many people run into problems with antibiotics after misusing them. When healthcare providers prescribe antibiotics, they usually specify about 5-7 days of continual use of the drug. This window of time is especially important because it allows for the antibiotic to clear the infection completely, and it prevents symptoms from returning. However, many patients are not aware of the required period of time needed to eradicate the bacteria; if they feel better after a couple doses, they may stop taking the antibiotic altogether. This prevents the drug from doing its job, and in the end, the patient is still susceptible to residual infections.
Another common misuse of antibiotics occurs when patients use their old antibiotics or someone else’s prescription. Every bacterial infection should be treated individually, as different infections may not be caused by the same bacteria. Thus, a borrowed or out-of-date prescription may not relieve the symptoms. On the contrary, a wrong prescription can even have harmful side effects such as an allergic reaction or the falsification of blood test results, in which the bacteria is only slightly suppressed but does not appear on a blood test.
Image Source: Andrew Brookes
The blame for improper antibiotic use has often been placed upon the patient. However, a recent study found that many healthcare providers misdiagnose diseases as bacterial infections. Antibiotic therapies were used on 56% of patients in the hospital, but only 58% of those diagnoses were accurate. On the other hand, of the patients that were given an accurate diagnosis, only 38% misused their antibiotics. Results suggest that antibiotic therapies in hospitals would be more effective if healthcare providers took accurate initial diagnoses when prescribing the drugs.
Although the studies have shown that healthcare providers are to blame for some improper antibiotic use, you can also limit mistakes by accurately following your healthcare provider’s instruction. Together, patients and physicians can make a change for the better!
Feature Image Source: Practical Cures