Many Antibiotic Prescriptions Do More Harm Than Good, Rutgers Doc Says
A new report finds that doctors continue to overprescribe antibiotics to adults and children, which can lead to serious health complications and drug-resistant infections.
Dr. Martin Blaser, the director of the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine at Rutgers University and the former president of the infectious disease society of America, said the CDC now estimates 30% of all antibiotic treatments are unnecessary but he believes it’s probably double that.
“Some people really want to take a pill to solve problems and some people hate to take a pill, and they will find a doctor who kind of agrees with them philosophically, he said. “Doctors report that they are often pressured by patients to prescribe an antibiotic for them, and for many doctors it’s very hard to resist that patient.”
He also noted older doctors tend to prescribe more antibiotics than younger doctors and urgent care centers also prescribe antibiotics more than pediatricians.
“The pediatricians know their patients better,” he said. “The urgent care centers are just seeing the person for the first time.”
Blaser said part of the problem is the belief on the part of some doctors that prescribing antibiotics may not help someone’s condition but they won’t do any harm.
“Now there’s more and more evidence that it might hurt,” he said. “Especially in young children, taking antibiotics may lead to increased risk of obesity and asthma and diabetes.”
He noted there are also indications over-prescribing antibiotics in adults can lead to an increased risk of kidney stones and certain kinds of pre-cancerous lesions and diabetes.
He said a percentage of people are prescribed antibiotics for influenza like illness even though the antibiotics won't help with viral infections.
He said patients need to remember the reason they go to a doctor is to be carefully examined and to have the doctor evaluate them.
“It’s not just to go to get an antibiotic," he said.