Over-prescription of antibiotics contributes to antibiotic resistance and affects the ability of bacteria to survive antibiotic treatment.  That’s very important because if antibiotics do not work for infections, there isn’t much else that will.  Now that’s scary!

A recent study of patients hospitalized for respiratory infections found that in those who were diagnosed with a viral infection (antibiotics will not help a viral infection) and who also had a normal chest x-ray (which detects pneumonia, which is often a bacterial infection), 63 percent were still prescribed antibiotics!  Is it perhaps just habit to prescribe them? 

Surprise, surprise:  Those patients were found to not benefit from the antibiotic treatment and, in fact, some went on to develop the antibiotic-associated Clostridium difficile infection.

This over-prescription of antibiotics is widespread, and is putting people at risk of developing dangerous infections, like C. diff, MRSA, E. coli and Klebsiella infections. In fact, two bacteria strains that carry a specific gene (NDM-1) have recently been in the news. Why?  Because bacteria that carry this gene are resistant to almost all antibiotics, including the last-resort antibiotics currently being used when the more common ones fail.

Next time your doctor wants to prescribe an antibiotic, make sure that it’s being used for a bacterial infection, and not a viral infection.