By now you’re used to me telling you about alarming studies. But this one made me even angrier than usual, because it shows the mainstream medical community at its most jaw-droppingly irresponsible.
This new study looked at the rates at which doctors prescribed antibiotics for acute respiratory infections. These types of infections bring familiar symptoms like runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, sore throat, and cough. And a virus almost always causes them. Since antibiotics only combat bacterial infections, they’re useless against viruses. So the fact that doctors prescribe antibiotics for respiratory infections at all is maddening. But this new research found that this already-inappropriate practice gets worse over the course of the day.
The group of doctors in this study appeared to “wear down” and prescribe more antibiotics at the end of the day than at the beginning.
Here’s the breakdown: The researchers gathered data from 23 different primary care practices over the course of 17 months. They looked at diagnoses, visit times, antibiotic prescriptions and chronic illnesses. After analyzing over 21,000 incidents of respiratory infection, they found antibiotic prescribing generally increased as the day went on, with 5 percent more patients receiving antibiotics at the end of the day compared to the beginning.
Here’s what’s even sadder. The researchers suggested, “Remedies for this problem might include different schedules, shorter sessions, more breaks, or maybe even snacks.”
Snacks? Really? I can guarantee you that I don’t need a snack to help keep me from flagrantly prescribing antibiotics to patients who don’t need them. But maybe that’s just me.
The study’s authors also noted, “Clinic is very demanding and doctors get worn down over the course of their clinic sessions.” Again, this is no excuse. If you can’t treat patients appropriately after five or six hours on the clock, you shouldn’t be treating patients AT ALL.
The fact is, every single dose of antibiotics taken when it’s not absolutely necessary contributes to the serious problem of antibiotic resistance in this country. A problem EVERY medical professional should be acutely aware of—and actively trying to stop.
What can you do to make sure you’re not on the receiving end of one of these shoddy prescriptions? Well, first of all, you should keep your immune system operating at peak performance so that, hopefully, you don’t wind up with a respiratory infection in the first place. (For my complete immune protocol, refer back to the May 2014 issue of Logical Health Alternatives. Subscribers can download and view this issue for free by logging to the subscriber section at the top right of this page. And if you’re not already a subscriber, now is a great time to become one—to make sure you have this important info on hand for before the winter sniffles hit.)
If you do find yourself under the weather and feel like you need to see a doctor, make sure to schedule your appointment for the morning (or as early in the day as possible).
Like I said, good doctors should have their wits about them no matter what time of day it is. But better safe than sorry, I suppose.
“Time of Day and the Decision to Prescribe Antibiotics,” JAMA Intern Med, epub ahead of print 10/6/14 “If you want an antibiotic, see your doctor later in the day.” ScienceDaily, 10/6/14 (www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141006174310.htm)