01 June 2011


Studies confirm that children are too often being prescribed unnecessary antibiotics. Every year nearly one million children are being prescribed antibiotics for asthma, even though guidelines do not recommend it. A Michigan Cerebral Palsy Lawyer commented that he has warned his clients about possible problems.
Pediatricians should be reducing unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions, but according to this data pediatricians are prescribing them way too often
Why doctors are prescribing antibiotics for asthma is not clear. One reason might be that doctors treating severe asthma attacks feel the need to cover all their bases by also prescribing antibiotics.
Sometimes parents may ask doctors to give their child antibiotics, but it doesn't seem to be a big factor. It may exist to some degree in clinical practice, but probably does not happen all that frequently, certainly not in one in every six visits for asthma.
The one encouraging finding was, when asthma education was delivered as part of the visit, antibiotics were less likely to be prescribed. When asthma education was not part of the visit, 19% of the time antibiotics were prescribed, compared with 11% when asthma education was given.
This suggests that if families and patients are educated and explain the causes of asthma that this will hopefully reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescribing.
The dangers of over prescribing antibiotics are that it promotes the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and there are side effects for the drugs themselves.
The report was published in the May 23 online edition of Pediatrics.
For the study, the team used data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Surveys and National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey to see the rate of antibiotics prescribed for children between 1998 and 2007.
Over that time, there were some 60.4 million medical care visits for children with asthma for which no prescription for antibiotics was warranted. However, antibiotics were prescribed 16% of the time, the researchers found.
Primary care doctors were most likely to prescribe antibiotics, while emergency department doctors were least likely to prescribe them.
Other factors that were linked with increased antibiotic prescribing included use of inhaled corticosteroids and being treated in the winter, the researchers noted. However, when visits to primary care doctors included asthma education, the rate of antibiotic prescribing went down.
In a second study in the same journal, Belgian investigators found similar over prescribing of antibiotics to asthmatic children. These researchers found children treated with asthma medications were 1.9 times more likely to also get a prescription for antibiotics, compared with children not treated with asthma drugs. In fact, 35.6% of children who were prescribed asthma drugs were also prescribed antibiotics, the researchers found.
This finding highlights the need for educational opportunities to inform clinicians that such co-prescription should be limited.
These articles indicate that asthma medications and antibiotics were very commonly prescribed in tandem both here and in Belgium, which conflicts with domestic and international recommendations that point out that antibiotics have no routine use in the care of asthmatics.
Antibiotic overuse confuses patients and family. They don't understand the true nature of asthma as an inflammatory, not an infectious disorder. In addition, over prescribing antibiotics entails personal and societal risks.
Not only are the drugs expensive, but they can also have risks such as side effects, drug interactions, and allergic reactions. Although the overuse of antibiotics is being reduced, there is still a need to continue further to get the number down.

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