Antibiotic Misuse Puts Patients at Risk

Published 03/05 2014 05:44PM

Updated 03/05 2014 09:41PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) When we get sick, we often seek antibiotics to help us feel better. But, sometimes they're prescribed even when they're not needed.

A new study found hospitals are over-prescribing antibiotics and putting patients at risk.

The Centers for Disease Control says overuse makes some patients more vulnerable to other type of infections.

"Using too many antibiotics for a long period of time patients can develop bacterial functions that can gradually become resistant," says Dr. Scott Folk, medical director of infectious diseases for Heartland Regional Medical Center.

Antibiotics are considered miracle drugs for their ability to kill a wide range of harmful bacteria but they could also kill the good bacteria.

Rex Robinson, a pharmacist at Rogers Pharmacy, says it's been a problem for years.

Robinson says a lot of it has to do with patients putting pressure on doctors for the medicine when they really don't need it.

"Prescribe needless antibiotics and subsequently I think that you build up super strengths and you become resistant to antibiotics," said Robinson.

Experts say patients may also be confused about what they actually treat. Antibiotics only treat bacteria infections, not viruses like the common cold.

"Many times those respiratory complaints are do to a viral infection such as a cold a virus that's causing bronchitis or something like that and in those situations antibiotics are not going to be very helpful," added Folk.

If you are prescribed antibiotics, it's always important to take the full dosage prescribed. If they aren't taken properly, you could put your health at risk.

"That creates problems too, you don't kill the bug it gets stronger," added Robinson.

The CDC studied hundreds of hospitals and found some prescribed antibiotics at three times the rate of others.

The CDC is suggesting all hospitals start accountability programs to monitor their use of the drug.

The Infectious Diseases Society of America says more than two million Americans are sickened every year by antibiotic-resistant infections and at least 23,000 die.

Experts suggest talking with a doctor before taking antibiotics.

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