You don’t have to go to the hospital to pick up a drug resistant infection anymore. Researchers in Chicago published new research documenting a seven-fold increase in drug resistant staph infection over just 5 years!
Drug resistant bugs (bacteria that have developed a resistance to antibiotics) have been rampant in hospitals (probably responsible for most of the 88,000 deaths per year associated with infection caused by medical treatment) for years, primarily due to the ubiquitous use of antibiotics there.
Now, it seems that these bugs are showing up everywhere. This is largely due to over-use of antibiotics. As I have said before, antibiotics do have a place in combating life threatening disease, but there blatant overuse in treating colds, ear infection, flu, sore throat, sinus infection, and bronchitis is truly alarming. The majority of the time these common illnesses do not require antibiotics. I highly recommend reading this article, which highlights rational antibiotic guidelines from The American Family Physician.
Another recent study concluded “The main reason for suboptimal use of antimicrobials was the over-prescribing of broad-spectrum antimicrobials. This situation should be corrected e.g. by changes in the post-graduate medical teaching program.” In other words, our medical schools need to do a better job of teaching students when not to prescribe.
The biggest problem reported in the literature is that patients believe they need antibiotics to get well, and so doctors give them to them. Consider this quote from the British Medical Journal, “The amount of antibiotics used in general practice can be reduced if general practitioners share their uncertainty over the necessity for antibiotics with patients who present with acute bronchitis. Macfarlane and colleagues found they could reduce the number of patients who took antibiotics by nearly a quarter among patients who the general practitioner thought did not definitely need antibiotics. This strategy could save about 750 000 courses of antibiotic nationally each year.” Seven hundred-and fifty thousand courses just for patients with bronchitis in the U.K. alone! Imagine how drastically we could slow the evolution of superbugs if the whole worl participated in rational antibiotic use!