The principal problem with antibiotic prescriptions in this country is that they are often dispensed on a preventive basis. Viewed on the level of each individual doctor, it isn’t hard to see the logic in this choice: “Just in case” can seem like an innocuous phrase, especially when placed next to words like “infection” or “malpractice.”
But “just in case” is a big problem for our society at large, at it propels millions into unnecessary treatment and contributes to the rise of antibiotic resistance.
We find that 66.0% of patients with mild symptoms of short duration are given antibiotics, and that nonclinical factors, including the individual provider, the provider’s specialty, and the presence of a medical trainee, significantly influence antibiotic use.
It is a staggering number, and one which must be addressed if we are to have any hope of prolonging the useful life of our most common medicines.
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