Misuse of antibiotics – again.

2The angst over the misuse of antibiotics has tended to be focused on poor old GPs while the shocking misuse in farming gets ignored.

Now we discover that some bright spark put antibiotics into ship paint presumably to reduce the need for drydock so that more money can be made faster.

The fact that there are more antibiotic resistant infections has been well known and well documented for many, many years. We’ve seen new strains of TB and of course the famous MRSA among others. So many patients are finding repetitive infections are no longer responding to antibiotics and the choices they have to fight infection are getting narrower.

Usually the media concentrates on the mythical patient who demands antibiotics when they don’t need them.  My personal experience is that people try NOT to take antibiotics unless they just can’t avoid it.  Frequently doctors refuse antibiotics to people who need them, leaving them to get so sick even a doctor can’t miss it and then they are given a stupidly short course of a broad spectrum antibiotic which, unsurprisingly, leads the patient to need to return to the doctor for a second course a couple of weeks later.  Despite the fact that we all know this happens, the policy remains in place. As far as I can see, this policy is simply a way to help infections become more resistant.  Making sure the infection is completely killed off, has to be a more sensible approach.

For those of us with compromised immunity it’s a recipe for disaster. As we suffer repetitive infection, helping strengthen bacteria with silly approaches to antibiotic use.

I don’t know how dangerous antibiotic paint really is. I do think the massive over-use in farming which allows for poor animal welfare is a genuine problem both for animal welfare and human health. But I do think the way antibiotics are prescribed by doctors is silly. They seem to have their hands tied – if they prescribe properly some daft MP will shout they’re over prescribing, but if they don’t prescribe when it’s needed, then people like me are left sicker for longer and sicker than we need be.

If there really are patients out there demanding antibiotics when they don’t need them; well, doctors can refuse. They could also take blood and sputum for testing; and then fewer mistakes would be made surely.

I wonder if those who demand a script are fearful of taking time off work. Perhaps a more realistic approach to sickness might help. One in which sick people keep their germs to themselves by staying home a few days. The love of money is the root of spread infection.

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