Why some doctors might keep prescribing antibiotics

There are at least three reasons why doctors continue to prescribe antibiotics, even when we know they only work with bacterial infections, not viruses.

UTHealth and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital pediatric infectious disease expert Norma Perez, D.O., said with the flu season we saw, there’s concerns there could be more to the illness and “what if”. “Part of it may be that the uncertainty, ‘what if the patient has a superimposed bacterial infection?’ So, it may be used as a safeguard, saying ‘well, just in case’,” said Perez.

She said some patients pressure doctors for a quick fix and don’t want to hear a virus will take seven to 10 days to work its way out of the system.

She said other times, recent research is showing that it just might be the doctor is tired.

“So, it might be easier just to give antibiotics, rather than sit down and explain you have a viral process and spending 15 minutes and discussing that, rather than just doing a (prescription) and providing that,” said Perez.

She said patients need to be educated that if they don’t have a bacterial infection, antibiotics are not helpful. In fact, overuse in improper settings can lead to superbugs. Antibiotic resistant superbugs are also another problem because of overuse of antibiotics across the world.

A third problem is overuse of antibiotics in livestock, which could lead to the development of drug-resistant bacteria. Superbugs in farm animals can be transferred to humans.

Consumers Union reports the overuse of antibiotics the overuse of antibiotics in food animals threatens public health.

Sick animals can be treated by antibiotics, but some farmers use antibiotics to promote growth.

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