Antibiotics war – we’re doomed! Dooooomed I tell you! And it’s all the patient’s fault!

Recently there has been a couple of MSM posts about how awful patients are demanding antibiotics for no good reason and how this has led to the current scary scenario where more and more infections are now resistant to antibiotics. Meanwhile there has been a mild suggestion that doctors over-prescribe antibiotics, where they aren’t needed, just to get bolshy patient’s off their backs (poor dears). Even those reports about the horrible side effects of antibiotics, including obesity bizarrely, tends to lean toward blaming the patient.

Why is it that doctors get so uptight and snarky when patients know about their own health and bodily function, but then blame patients for ignorance over medication?

Meanwhile the history of misuse, and continued misuse, of antibiotics in meat production seems to have been quietly forgotten. Of course the over prescription of these drugs happens in poor quality animal care.

Thanks to the massive misuse of these drugs we now face more “superbugs” that are horribly resistant and therefore obviously more dangerous and difficult to treat. Most of us know about MRSA and most of us, I am guessing, know someone who has been through that nightmare.

But the knowledge that antibiotic use needed serious reformation has been around for well over 20 years. In the book Osler’s Web, which I reviewed, Johnson mentioned a book published in the 1980’s that warned of the impending bacterial and viral crisis the Western world faced. Nothing was done.

When considering the shocking misuse in food production alongside the incompetent use by medics, it’s hardly surprising that patients are sicker for longer.

Let’s look at three little cases.

Case One: A long time ago when I was still a nurse, a woman was referred for psychiatric care because she appeared lethargic, anxious and depressed. So a Community Psych Nurse went out to see her and so an assessment. She discovered that this patient was on four different antibiotics and had been for some considerable time. On questioning the patient the story emerged that she had been to the GP with an infection and he’d given her a prescription. He gave her no info about the tablets so when she finished she assumed she should ask for a repeat and as she got the repeat she presumed that was correct. She later went with another infection and got another antibiotic and did the same. Feeling ill she returned and was given another one and so on. Each repeat prescription request was filled with no questions asked.

The CPN went to see the GP who was pretty rude to her but he cancelled the  scripts. Soon the woman was feeling much better. Rocket science this ain’t.

The second case is a very young lady who has suffered repeat infections since childhood. No doc has ever taken blood so no blood cultures have ever been done. She’s had no specialist care and is already unable to take two antibiotics, leaving her with very very few choices. She has finally been referred but I have to wonder how much damage has already been done through medical neglect. She has quite a few shocking tales to tell about her treatment since childhood. The fact that she carries infection that is immune to two abtibiotics is not her fault at all – it is plainly and startlingly the fault of her past GP.

Then there’s my story. I get repeat chest infections. Back in childhood they were frequent but nothing like these last couple of years. In the past I would have blood taken, usually in hospital- as I was there a lot, and the correct antibio given. It was given for  7 or 10 days and I wouldn’t need another lot for quite some time.

But as things went wrong again I learned a lesson. If I went to the doc at the beginning of an infection to get it nipped in the bud, I was almost always turned away as he couldn’t “hear” it. Or there weren’t enough symptoms. This meant I would then have to go back a few days later when it was bubbly and I was so feverish even a doctor couldn’t miss it and he would give 5 days of Amoxicillin. Hardly a target antibio. Giving it for only 5 days, which would simply knock the infection back, meaning a couple of weeks later there is was again and a couple of weeks after that I was back with “in yer face” infection. This has left me taking Amoxicillian every 6 to 8 weeks for months on end. A bit like inocculating the bloomin’ infection really.  The only time I get a targetted antibiotic is when I’ve been in hospital and blood cultures are done.

It’s time to stop blaming the patient and do something genuine to sort out the problem.

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3 responses to “Antibiotics war – we’re doomed! Dooooomed I tell you! And it’s all the patient’s fault!

  1. My Genny, at age 6, had repeat ear infections and the doctor we started to see gave just 5 days of some ‘new’ antibiotic (sixteen years later, I forget which one). And she’d be back in for another round two or three weeks later when the infection returned, same ear. After a few months of this, the doctor decided she had ‘allergies’ and needed to see his good friend the allergist.

    The allergist tried to convince me to get her rounds and rounds of tests, because it was his expert medical opinion that this was indeed allergies, and he wrote up a list of all these things he had to test her for. A very long list. Meanwhile, poor Gen was on another round of antibiotics for the same infection. Now it seemed to me that if it was allergies, it would be both ears, now, wouldn’t it? And maybe sinuses, too? But it was only this one ear.

    The whole thing didn’t seem right to me, so I had my MIL look up the particular antibiotic in a big book she had purchased with lists of drugs, use, dose and side effects. When I learned the drug was a 10 day, not a five day, I decided not to do anything about allergies and took her to another doctor, a pediatrician.

    The new doctor was annoyed that the first doc had not given her the full 10 days (I had the bottle as proof), and this was NOT the first patient he’d seen with the same ear infection – to – allergist story. Seems they had a quiet little racket going on there, even if they hadn’t intended it.

    I doubt the ped. did anything about it though. They have the ‘professional courtesy’ and don’t do anything much to police each other so I’m sure there were more children after her being used to cause the rise in resistant bacteria.

  2. I don’t doubt you are right Shana. I am sometimes really taken aback by the way doctors mis-prescribe medication, especially antibiotics. I sometimes wonder if doctors actually have a clue about how these drugs work.
    The whole reason I ended up so ill this time around was because I was waiting for the symptoms to be so obvious even a doctor couldn’t miss them – and I end up in an ambulance. Whoops! But at least I’ve had 7 full days with an IV start so I am actually feeling infection-free (for once)/

  3. I’m just glad you are better, Shel. Next time, please don’t wait so long or you may end up in a hearse instead of an ambulance, ok?

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