Watch Out: Your antibiotic prescription is likely useless

According to a study published recently in the BMJ, at least 1/4 of antibiotic prescriptions written in the US are “inappropriate” which is just a gentle way of saying they were totally unnecessary (and perhaps even dangerous).

But the situation is actually much worse than these authors account for simply because to get the data, they relied on the codes that doctors use to make a diagnosis (and hence bill for what they did for that patient) and it’s just plain common sense that lots of doctors would way over-diagnose bacterial infections in submitting codes just to justify the antibiotic they have prescribed to that coughing patient sitting across from them even though they are pretty sure that all the patient has is a viral infection for which there is absolutely no justification – it’s totally inappropriate – for giving an antibiotic for a viral infection.

In other words, the over-prescribing of antibiotics is likely way higher than this 25 % these authors came up with, especially of course, for respiratory infections, the overwhelming majority of which are caused by viruses.

With so many people out there suffering right now from the flu, please remember this: An antibiotic will not get you better faster, it will not prevent pneumonia or bronchitis, and it will give lots of you side effects that vary from a small nuisance to potentially dangerous complications.