Antibiotic Prescriptions are Wrong 52% of the Time

A new study shows patients with ear infections, sore throats, and sinus infections seldom get the right antibiotic.

Commonly Mis-Prescribed Z Pack
Commonly Mis-Prescribed Z Pack

A recent NBC News article says doctors get antibiotic prescriptions wrong more than half the time. Researchers at Pew Charitable Trusts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and University of Utah looked at ear infections, sore throats, and sinus infections, which account for 44 million antibiotic prescriptions a year. The report come on the heels of another report that found a third of patients who are prescribed antibiotics don’t even need them in the first place.

So why are doctors making these mistakes that fail to cure patients’ symptoms and help drug-resistant “super-bugs” evolve? One speculation is that patients ask for the easy-to-remember “Z-Pack,” which is among the most commonly misused drugs. Dr. David Hyung, an infectious disease specialist at Pew, noted that patient pressures and the expectation for antibiotics often influence doctor prescriptions. He believes the solution is more education; patients need to ask, “Is an antibiotic really needed? Is this the right antibiotic?” According to the CDC, drug-resistant bugs affect 2 million people each year, eventually leading to 23,000 deaths.

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