As a medical patient, we put trust in our physicians to properly diagnose and treat our medical issues. The overuse of antibiotics is one way that doctors may cause us harm, rather than good. There are several reasons why doctors prescribe antibiotics more frequently than they should. Antibiotics are often an easy option. Because they can treat a large variety of symptoms they can be given easily, without a thorough diagnosis of the actual cause of the problem.
Harmful Effects of Antibiotic Overuse
Sometimes antibiotics are necessary in the treatment of a disease. However, when prescribed incorrectly, or too often, may suffer from some serious medical problems. Some of the problems that can be caused by the overuse of antibiotics include:
· System Toxicity (ototoxicity) The entire body may become too full of toxins due to overuse of antibiotics. This is a severe and harmful condition.
· Kidney Toxicity (nephrotoxicity) Because of misuse or overuse, toxins may collect in the kidneys, causing harm. Kidney damage may occur.
· Reduced Effectiveness – Overuse of antibiotics can cause resistance to them, thereby reducing or eliminating their effectiveness. Particularly resistant strains of bacteria can occur (Superbugs), making it more difficult to control infections.
· C-Diff Infections – The body normally maintains the proper level of bacteria in the digestive system, which is necessary for health. The overuse of antibiotics can allow the body to have an overabundance of bacteria called clostridium difficile (C diff). Symptoms may include digestive disorders such as diarrhea, and may even lead to death, especially in children and the elderly. According to the Mayo Clinic, C-diff infections in the U.S. are on the rise and they are very difficult to treat.
Avoiding Overuse of Antibiotics
Your physician should ultimately be responsible for making sure that the prescription of antibiotics is not harmful to patients. You may assist by making sure that you inform your doctor or past or current antibiotic use, since it may have been prescribed by another physician. Remember that some infections and minor diseases are treated naturally by the body and often clear up on their own in a few days.
Discuss your concerns with your doctor during your medical exam. Take antibiotics according to instructions. It is important to understand that antibiotics are completely ineffective for viral infections, such as the common cold. Before prescribing antibiotics, your doctor should determine whether the infection is viral or bacterial. For example, a study completed by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that antibiotics were prescribed for as many as 60% of those with upper respiratory tract infections, however, the usual cause of these are viruses. Thus, the treatment with antibiotics was inappropriate.
Medical Malpractice Investigation
In cases of possible medical malpractice, an investigation must be done to determine the facts of the case. Keep all medical records, prescriptions, and other pertinent documents and take notes when visiting the doctor. Some illnesses due to antibiotic overuse can occur much later and therefore you should always hold information for a period of time. If you suspect medical malpractice has occurred, contact Levin & Perconti Attorneys At Law as soon as possible. We specialize in medical malpractice and are here to answer your questions.
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