According to a new study published in the British Medical Journal, antibiotics are overprescribed in the U.S. Shockingly, the study found that only 8% of antibiotics prescribed were for something that was clearly justified. Another 36% of antibiotics prescribed were possibly necessary, 28% were given without a diagnosis, and 23% were clearly unnecessary. The study’s findings suggests that 1 in 6 adults and 1 in 10 children were given unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics in the year 2016.
The study divided all cases into three different categories, where antibiotics should always, sometimes, or never be used. In many cases where antibiotics were not necessary, they were demanded by the patients themselves, or their relatives. In some cases, the patients hoped that the treatment would increase the recovery speed or prevent possible complications that were unlikely to occur in the first place.
The big problem with the overuse of antibiotics is the potential for antibiotic resistant pathogens. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control calls antibiotic resistance one of the “biggest public health challenges of our time.” The CDC estimates that about 2 million people in the U.S. alone get an antibiotic-resistant infection. As more bacteria are becoming resistant to all available antibiotics, there will be fewer, and sometimes not any, antibiotic options for people who might truly need them to control life-threatening infections.
The study shows the need to rein in antibiotic prescriptions and only use them as necessary.
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