The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria resistant to antibiotics, and at least 23,000 people die as a direct result of antibiotic-resistant infections. To improve patient outcomes, patients as well as clinicians need to keep in mind that more pills are not always necessary but rather the right medicine at the right time is best. According to a recent study, nearly 1 in 5 people (18%) save their antibiotics for future use, and 19% share or have taken another family member’s antibiotic. It is also not uncommon to hear a patient has taken their pet’s antibiotics.
In reference to the same study, of the patients who reported asking for antibiotics, the overwhelming majority (85%) demand antibiotics in the belief that antibiotics will cure their illness and 25% agreed that antibiotics always work. Another worrisome finding was that 11% of clinicians indicated their reason for prescribing was that “antibiotics won’t hurt if not needed and could help the patient sooner if I’m correct.” A large percentage (65%) of participants who asked for antibiotics just wanted to feel better- a goal shared by both clinicians and patients.
In the fast-paced, high demand, and sometimes overwhelming healthcare environment the lack of time and patient education remains a barrier. An open dialogue between patients and clinicians is essential to help diminish the increase in antibiotic-resistant infections so that both parties can flourish in the sea of ubiquity.
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