“The Health Center Won’t Give Me Antibiotics.”

You want it, and –even worse- you can’t have it. As we all begin to get sick with viruses such as the flu, we don’t think too much about it because we presume we will be fine to just go down to University Health Services and get antibiotics! But, that’s not the case.

At the presentation Andrew had us go to for extra credit, Pete Hudson talked to us for a majority of it about how the overuse of prescription antibiotics by doctors is out of control. He along with many others are trying to get physicians to stop giving out such an abundance of antibiotics to children and even more so students. His example was about our own University Health Services and how 50% of the time, a student leaves with antibiotics when in all reality, the antibiotics aren’t going to help them with their virus, and it’s something they must just overcome through sleep and hydration.

So the other day, it occurred to me, can we really be getting prescribed too many antibiotics, what’s harm of too many antibiotics, and why are doctors over prescribing them if so?

According to the BMJ, study researchers conducted an observational study on the efficiency of both hospital and general practitioners’ records of current drug treatment in consecutive patients who attended a general medical clinic. They found either the hospital or general practitioner’s records (which were obtained in a questionnaire), or both, were inaccurate for over 70% of 59 patients interviewed with their medicine. Most of the errors were due to patients taking drugs in addition to the one’s shown on their medical records, some of them being taken inappropriately, and seemed unnecessary for the condition they had. It appeared to the study researchers that neither the hospital doctors nor general practitioners were fully aware of the drugs their patients were taking, and this meant overprescribing. This study shows that people everywhere are being overprescribed medicine. While 70% is a significant percent, this is observational, which as we know from class isn’t as strong as experimental, and the study has a low sample size. It would be interesting to conduct an experiment to test our doctors, and see their reasoning behind the medicine they prescribe. Additionally, there doesn’t seem to be a known mechanism behind why doctors are overprescribing, and as Pete Hudson mentioned to us it is out of control. It comes as a risk to many if doctors don’t know patient history, because if the patient has pre-existing medical conditions, prescribing the patient with the medication could hurt them.

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Study 2, done by Donald R. Miller, and Avron Spiro III, evaluated 1,648 in a longitudinal study of male veterans. The study was an analysis of self-reported questionnaire data. The participants listed each of their medications with indication, missed doses, adverse reactions, and whether their amount of medication was “too much, the right amount, or too little.” The questionnaire also included questions about medication adherence, problems with medications, common symptoms, and screening questions for a number of chronic conditions. Of the 1,256 participants and their responses, 80% of them had taken medication within 4 weeks and 40% of them state they were taking too much. This study concluded patient perception of overmedication does in fact correlate with the self-report of decreased compliance. This meaning overall, these veterans were being prescribed too much medicine, and for all we know they could have been prescribed the wrong medicine as well. Additionally, as we talked about in class, we must consider whether this is generalizable to the public at large.

Moreover, as we continue to get prescribed antibiotics when not needed, our body starts to build a resistance to them, time and time again. Our physician thinks we need the antibiotic to make our sickness go away but in all reality the antibiotic doesn’t get rid of the virus. According to the CDC, antibiotic resistance occurs when germs outsmart drugs. The CDC has also found that widespread overuse and incorrect prescribing practices are a significant part of what is fueling this antibiotic resistance. The CDC recommends healthcare providers similar to UHS to prescribe antibiotics correctly and what they mean by this is get cultures, start the right drug at the right dose for the right duration for the patient. They also recommend that healthcare providers stay aware of antibiotic resistance patterns in their own facilities. The want for the drug in the patient doesn’t necessarily express the need for it by the physician, and this is important.

Lastly, the risk of overuse of a drug isn’t worth the cost. According to the American College of Physicians, studies in hospitals show that more than half of the antibiotics inappropriately used account for 19-34% of the hospitals overall pharmacy budget. Therefore, to be giving out these drugs when they aren’t needed, it seems risky for not only the patient but the hospital too.

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Overall, it is important as college students for us to understand that we don’t need antibiotics every time we come down with a cold, because the fact of the matter is, most of the time antibiotics won’t cure the virus like Pete Hudson said, and our body will only continue to build resistance to it. So Next time you go to University Health Services, take a step back and think about it when your doctor tells you, you don’t need medicine. Because as much as you want it~ you can’t have it~ and you don’t need it.

1 thought on ““The Health Center Won’t Give Me Antibiotics.”

  1. Benjamin N Seltzer

    Great post! I assume you also went to the lecture on antibiotics. That was one of the most informative extracurricular lectures that I have ever been to, and I hope you felt the same way! I think that the Pennsylvania Antibiotic Awareness week that was announced by Tom Wolf during the lecture is largely important to this cause, and hopefully we will be able to eradication misdiagnosis of antibiotics, leading to a healthier population. As you pointed out, there are many risks that come from misuse of antibiotics, and these can be easily avoided through proper diagnosis!

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