Antibiotics

Concerns surrounding patient care have been accentuated recently, following the publication of statistics regarding the quantity of prescriptions given for antibiotics. The news has reported that results of a survey featuring 1,000 GPs have indicated that almost half have prescribed antibiotics despite knowing they will have little effect on a patient’s illness. This information has added to already growing concerns surrounding the build-up of a resistance to them, and our ability to fight infections.

The Guardian's article explains how the more a patient takes antibiotics, the less effective they become when fighting illnesses. The report highlights how steps need to be taken to ensure these drugs continue to be a viable treatment option, as there are concerns that our ability to fight off potential future superbugs without them is somewhat questionable.

The Telegraph noted that 44% of the GPs involved in the survey would prescribe antibiotics in response to feeling pressured by assertive patients. The report includes information from Professor Dame Sally Davies, who indicates that if we begin to build up a resistance – weakening our ability to fight infection – straightforward procedures and common operations such as hip replacements could start to become fatal.

Another report from the Telegraph highlights how the government may have to take action to prevent such a problem from getting worse. A task force to investigate the frequency of GPs' unnecessary prescriptions has been called for, as the survey revealed that a quarter of those asked felt pressured to prescribe antibiotics multiple times over the course of a week.

According to a study by the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 51% of patients complaining of coughs and colds were prescribed antibiotics in 2011. This is a significant increase from the 36% recorded in 1999, and it has been alluded to that such an increase is not helped by patients being reluctant to take time off work for small illnesses, becoming more and more persistent when seeking treatment from GPs.

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