Is the fear of antibiotic resistance impacting patient’s medical treatment?

The World Health Organisation has described antibiotic resistance as one of the greatest threats to human health. This however shouldn’t deter medical professionals from providing antibiotic therapy in cases that warrant and require such treatment.

The threat of antibiotic resistance and the concern of being unable to treat a ‘super bug’ has been prominent in the media and heavily discussed by medical professionals in more recent times. It has resulted in an increase in patients not being prescribed antibiotic therapy as freely and sometimes in circumstances that would indicate the requirement of such treatment.

Balancing the needs of the patient whilst avoiding the over prescription of antibiotic therapy is a challenging task that doctors in all professions face each day, however the requirement to appropriately treat patients has not changed.

Antibiotics, when used appropriately can save lives by fighting organisms that are causing infections. So why is there concern over the prescription of antibiotics?

If patients regularly receive antibiotic therapy it is likely they will become resistant to the strain of treatment and as a result, if you suffer from a severe illness or life threatening infection, such as the ‘super bug’, medical professionals are concerned that there will be no treatment available which could result in life threatening consequences.

As a patient it is important to know the circumstances in which antibiotics should be prescribed as opposed to when conservative treatment is the most appropriate treatment. It should be noted that antibiotic therapy is ineffective in treating the general cold and flu and viral infections.

However, some medical professionals are becoming more reluctant to prescribe therapy even in circumstances where there is an established infection. Medical professionals are now having to justify the prescription of antibiotic therapy which can create missed opportunities to treat patients which can result in very devastating outcomes including amputation, destruction of organs and death.

If you are suffering from an infection and consider that you have not been provided with appropriate antibiotic therapy, you are encouraged to seek a second opinion.

As we enter Antibiotic Awareness Week (12 – 18 November 2018), it should act as a reminder to all medical professionals to appropriately consider the requirement of the antibiotic therapy and the benefits that antibiotic therapy can provide versus the potential threat of antibiotic resistance. 

RELATED LEGAL SERVICES: Medical negligence

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Kirsten Van Der Wal

Kirsten Van Der Wal

Maurice Blackburn Sunshine Coast
Kirsten Van Der Wal is an experienced medical negligence compensation lawyer in Maurice Blackburn’s Brisbane Office (Monday, Tuesday and Thursday), and Maroochydore office (Wednesday and Friday) on the Sunshine Coast.

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