Doctors are urged to stop prescribing antibiotics for colds and flu

January 26, 2016

Dr. David Gude, Chief Operating Officer for Texas MedClinic, comments on a recent report from CBS News on the dangers and the limited effectiveness of prescriptions for antibiotics.

“This is nothing new for physicians and particularly for our practice.  We have been actively participating in the CDC program Get Smart Antibiotic Campaign for about 10 years.  Their pamphlet is the ONLY medical pamphlet in every exam room.  The significance of over prescribing became particularly clear to us at Texas MedClinic about 8 years ago. I urge everyone to read the article referenced above,” Dr. Gude says.

He adds, “One thing the article did not discuss is the “experience” many patients have of “getting better” once they started an antibiotic for some prior, similar illness.   This unfortunate reinforcement is often a strong motivator of the wrong type.  There are several important factors to keep in mind with respect to this type of treatment.  The first is the “placebo effect”.  It has been well demonstrated that if a person takes something they believe will help with a condition, it is effective > 60% of the time; no matter what the treatment or disease might be.  The second is that the natural history of these illnesses is they do resolve. If one starts an antibiotic a few days before the illness would have cleared, one may credit the medication rather than their own, healthy immune system!

To view a copy of the CDC’s Get Smart About Antibiotic, click here.

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