November 18, 2011

GPs prescribe antibiotics to 97% of patients on request, despite increasing resistance to the drugs, research suggests.

According to the study, more than half of those who visit the doctor with a cough or cold expect to be given the medication, although viruses do not respond to the treatment.

There are fears that overuse of antibiotics could render the drugs redundant and unable to tackle serious infections such as hospital bugs. About 25,000 patients a year in the EU die from infections caused by bacteria that have grown resistant to antimicrobial medicines, including antibiotics.

The research, commissioned by the Health Protection Agency (HPA), showed that 97% of patients said their GP or nurse put them on a course of antibiotics the last time they asked for a prescription.

Some 20% of adults consulted for the study said they had made an appointment to see their doctor for a recent respiratory tract infection, such a sore throat or flu. Of these, 53% expected to be prescribed antibiotics and 25% said they believed antibiotics worked on most coughs and colds.

Read full report here

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