One of the major health problems in the USA for many years has been the misuse of antibiotics.It has resulted in an alarming increase in the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria with subsequent morbidity, mortality and expense.
The unnecessary use of antibiotics by physicians not only results in as many as 25,000 deaths per year from infections with antibiotic resistant bacteria, but also high rates of Clostridium difficile diarrhea, as well as an estimated $35 billion in medical costs.
Clostridium difficile, a difficult to treat infection, has an infection rate that nearly doubled from 2001 to 2010 in the USA.
Despite repeated warnings to physicians, antibiotics are prescribed for approximately 60% of sore throats, and more than 70% of cases of acute bronchitis.
The only justifiable reason for prescribing antibiotics for a sore throat is in the presence of group A Streptococcus bacteria, which occurs in only about 10% of cases.
Acute bronchitis is almost always caused by a virus. Antibiotics should only rarely be prescribed for bronchitis, because they are ineffective against viral illness.
It is time that physicians stop prescribing medications that they know are inappropriate – often because they may be afraid the patient will leave their office unsatisfied without a prescription.