TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Survey: Physicians continue to prescribe antibiotics they know won't work

Daily Photo Galleries

By The Associated Press
Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, 5:33 p.m.
 

CHICAGO — Repeated warnings that antibiotics don't work for most sore throats and bronchitis have failed to stop overuse: Doctors prescribed these drugs for most adults seeking treatment at a rate that remained high over more than a decade, researchers found.

The results are in two analyses of national health surveys from the late 1990s to 2010, representing more than 2 million annual visits to doctors' offices or emergency rooms.

Antibiotics can have bad side effects, including stomach pain and severe diarrhea, and inappropriate prescriptions put patients at needless risk. The practice can cause drug-resistant germs.

The findings show reducing inappropriate prescribing “is frustratingly, disappointingly slow,” said Dr. Jeffrey Linder, a physician-researcher at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. He did the research with Brigham colleague Dr. Michael Barnett.

Dr. Reid Blackwelder, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, said part of the problem is prescribing habits that didn't change when evidence emerged showing most sore throats and bronchitis are caused by viruses; antibiotics only treat infections caused by bacteria, not colds, flu and other illness from viruses. Illnesses antibiotics can treat include bacterial pneumonia, most urinary infections, some types of eye and ear infections, and some types of food poisoning.

Patients' demands and doctors' time pressures play a role: It's often easier to prescribe an antibiotic than to take time to explain why they don't work for some illnesses, Blackwelder said.

“We've all done it,” he said.

Dr. Ed Septimus, a professor at Texas A&M Health Science Center in Houston, said development of more rapid testing to identify germs that cause sore throats or bronchitis could help curb the practice.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. Few knew of cyber attack on White House computer network
  2. Nurse defies Maine quarantine in standoff over Ebola
  3. Unaccompanied immigrants put heavy strain on schools, charities
  4. Botched probe of suspected arms dealer echoed Fast and Furious, watchdog finds
  5. Mexican claiming sanctuary in Unitarian church in Denver seeks amnesty
  6. Terminally ill woman may delay planned Nov. 1 suicide
  7. Plane slams into pilot training center at Kansas airport, killing 4
  8. Museum saves part of bomber plant
  9. Inmate freed in landmark case
  10. Ferguson grand jury cleared in leaks about police shooting of black teenager
  11. D.C. closer to legalizing sale of pot
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.