No doubt, my friend was not assigned the dismissive diagnosis of 'the sniffles', but was likely given a more ominous diagnosis of 'acute upper respiratory infection', a term that sounds so serious that he might have feared that a 911 call had already been made.
Why are antibiotics prescribed so casually and so frequently? Choose from the following answers. There may be more than one correct response.
- Antibiotics are the appropriate 'shock & awe' response to sniffle syndromes.
- Patients demand antibiotics and offer evidence of necessity that their prior physician always prescribed them for the exact same symptoms.
- Prescribing antibiotics is a sure method for increasing patient satisfaction.
- Antibiotics are extremely safe and only rarely cause adverse reactions.
- Patients fear that a delay in antibiotics could bring them to the brink of an infectious calamity.
- Drug reps and direct-to-consumer advertising create a climate to prescribe medications including antibiotics.
- It takes a physician 10 seconds to zap an antibiotic prescription to the pharmacy, but could take 10 or 15 minutes to explain why they're not indicated.
- Antibiotic drug samples in physicians' offices encourage written prescriptions for patients.
- Since physicians can't reliably distinguish viral infections from bacterial attacks, it's safer to prescribe antibiotics just to be sure that a bacterial infection isn't left untreated.
Antibiotic overutilization has real consequences.
- It costs money.
- It fosters a climate of medical overutilization.
- Antibiotics can cause severe side-effects including C, difficile (C. diff) infections, which can be fatal.
- It leads to the proliferation of resistant bacteria - superbugs - which won't respond to any available antibiotic. Care to be infected with one of these germs?
- Fever and cough
- Chest pain
- Abdominal Pain
- Trouble breathing
Traditional CC: "I have a sore throat and a cough."
New & Improved CC: "I need an antibiotic."
Medical overutilization is my Chief Complaint.