Health – To treat or not to treat

By Gilda Morales, ANP, DC

“I need antibiotics!”  Is a phrase that most providers dread hearing, even after explaining to a patient that watching, waiting and supportive treatment is all that is needed.  Unfortunately, in today’s society, any business institution or any health care facility is rated based on customer satisfaction rather than work ethic or standards.  So, the problem now is do employees/health care professionals provide service that caters to what the customer wants, or choose to serve according to what customer needs despite customer dissatisfaction?  Should health care providers prescribe antibiotics even when patients might not need it just to please the patient?

According to the CDC, “Antibiotic use is the leading cause of antibiotic resistance. Up to one-third to one-half of antibiotic use in humans is either unnecessary or inappropriate. Each year in the United States, 47 million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions are written in doctor’s offices, emergency rooms, and hospital-based clinics, which makes improving antibiotic prescribing and use a national priority.”  The truth is antibiotic use is not the gold standard of treatment for all infections.  As a matter of fact, when used inappropriately and unnecessarily, this will lead to serious harmful side effects. A recent study by the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society reported that due to multi-drug resistance (MDR) bacteria, pediatric patients admitted in hospital had an increase length of stay and trend toward an increase risk of death.  Another article by CIDRAP (Center of Infectious Disease Research & Policy) reports that “the incidence and proportion of Enterobacteriaceae infections that were MDR rose from 0.2% in January 2007 to 1.5% by March 2015—an increase of 750%.”  As CDC mentioned, this is a national priority.   Based on current data, antibiotic resistance is increasing at a dramatic rate to a point where eventually antibiotics will not be able to fight bacterial infections anymore, or if it does,there will be a prolonged hospital admission and risk of death.  How do we prevent this crisis from happening?  “To combat antibiotic resistance and avoid adverse drug reactions, we must use antibiotics appropriately.  This means using antibiotics only when needed and, if needed, using them correctly.”   Just like anything in life, moderation and balance is key.   We don’t spend all our money on payday, it is prudent to pay our bills and save some for a rainy day.  We’re not suppose to eat all types of food, but rather to choose a more balanced & healthy meal with fruits & vegetables.    It is the same with antibiotics, we use it when there is a bacterial infection and not just any infection.  Below are basic guidelines of when to treat or not to treat using antibiotics as per CDC;

So, the next time you visit your doctor and he doesn’t prescribe antibiotics, don’t be alarmed. There is a reason behind it, and many times it’s for the best.  If you have concerns, talk to your doctor about it. Wouldn’t it be nice if all businesses have the best in mind for your health?  Hopefully, someday in the future, the standards of services will based on what’s good for your health, rather than just satisfaction.