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'Patients lack knowledge on antibiotic use'
[Posted: Wed 04/03/2009 by Niall Hunter, Editor www.irishhealth.com]
Patients do not understand that antibiotics are usually effective against bacteria but not against viruses, according to a new study of GP patients in Co. Cork.
The study by doctors at the Department of General Practice in UCC found that 40% of patients surveyed believed that antibiotics were effective against viral infections, when in fact they have no effect on them.
In addition, 37% of those surveyed believed that antibiotics are effective against both bacterial and viral infecitons, when again this is not the case.
The findings have emerged as the Government tries to cut back on our massive State drugs bill and following the launch of a campaign by the HSE to convince patients that they do not always need an antibiotic when they have an infection.
Health experts are frequently pointing out that an antibiotic will be of no use to someone with a viral infection, such as a cold or flu-like illness, and will only work if the infection is bacterial in origin.
Bacteria cause diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis, sore throats and ear infections, while viruses cause conditions such as the common cold, acute bronchitis, the flu, and measles
However, experts also say that even in some bacterial infections, antibiotics may be of limited use to the patient.
Another recent report showed that Ireland is one of only three countries in Europe where GP and hospital antibiotic prescribing is on an upward trend, despite the fact that many prescriptions for antibiotics will not make any difference to the patient's illness.
The report, from the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland (RCPI) said doctors must reduce the amount of antibiotics being prescribed in order to reduce healthcare-associated infections such as MRSA. It said patients should be educated not to always expect an antibiotic from a doctor when they have an infection.
The RCPI report pointed out that overuse of antibiotics contributes to the spread of 'superbugs' like MRSA and C.diff.
Many bacterial infections have now become resistant to antibiotics because of the bacteria's ability to change and adapt to different environments, including exposure to the antibiotics themselves. This has led to the emergence of the 'superbugs'.
However, the co-author of the Cork study, Prof Colin Bradley, told irishhealth.com that in order to educate patients about the proper use of antibiotics, doctors may need to resort to alternative strategies rather than technical scientific explanations about viruses, bacteria and antibiotic resistance.
He said doctors instead could emphasise that in 10% of cases, patients taking antibiotics may get side effects such as stomach upsets or skin conditions.
Prof Bradley also pointed out that even in bacterial infections, antibiotics sometimes do not work or are of limited effectiveness.
"For example, with a typical sore throat caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotics might shorten the illness by a day and most people will recove even without taking an antibiotic."
The Cork study, by Prof Bradley and Dr Paul Nolan, found that men had far poorer understanding than women regarding what antibiotics should be prescribed for and communication between healthcare professionals and the public on this issue needs greater effort, the authors said.
Prof Bradley said that while doctors do come under pressure from patients who often expect an antibiotic as a 'pay-off' for their visit, this tends to vary from patient to patient. He said a growing number of patients were in fact becoming more informed about the correct use of antibiotics.
The preliminary findings of the Cork study, carried out on 90 patients, were presented at the annual scientific meeting of the Association of University Departments of General Practice in Ireland.
|hammer Posted: 04/03/2009 10:47|
get into your local community pharmacy and start asking questions. Familiarise your self NOW.
|maggie Posted: 13/03/2009 19:34|
Some doctors are hesitating too much when prescribing antibiotics, they are putting too many things down to a virus, by the time a bacterial infection is diagnosed it is very bad and needs a strong antibiotic.
|mamags Posted: 26/11/2009 19:32|
Yes, I do believe most patients think antibiotics will cure everything, I have heard it in our GPs surgery, someone with a bit of a cough and runny nose...."yea, once I get a few antibiotics I'll be ok." and some even saying " that doc is no good, he did'nt even give me an antibiotic " those same patiants might be seen a day or to later, out shopping and not a thing wrong with them.
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