Research published by Jama Internal Medicine found that only half of diagnosed patients with the 3 most common bacterial infections are receiving proper treatment. The study was from the data of a group of 44 million patients, meaning that only around 22 million received the recommended treatments. The other half has been shown to receive broad-spectrum antibiotics such as azithromycin, which poses a serious problem for strengthening superbugs. Already there have been reports on these antibiotic resistant strains of bugs, and the blame lies in practices such as these, where errors fall in the millions and provide potential ground zeros. The more broad-spectrum antibiotics are used, the greater the potential they stop working.
The authors of the study focused on 3 infections that account for about 30% of antibiotic prescriptions, sinus infections, middle-ear infections, and pharyngitis. The reasoning behind why providers give one treatment over another is unclear from the study, but deductive reasoning suggests that it is most likely due to simple convenience. Broad-spectrum is typically a once-a-day pill, while the recommended one would be multiple a day. Patients have also been shown to pressure their doctors into giving them the broader one, mistakenly believing that it gives them a better chance of combatting whatever infection they have-and when it appears to work they ask for it again, allowing for more resistance build-up for anything that the drugs didn’t quite get.
This is on top of findings released earlier this year by the Center for Disease Control that shows how at least a third of patients receive antibiotics they don’t even remotely need. Such findings clearly spell out why superbugs are starting to rear their heads, and why over-prescribing is a fatal mistake.