Many patients have misconceptions about the effectiveness of antibiotics, and often insist on them to treat Upper Respiratory Tract Infections (URTIs). In many cases, this contributes to the misuse and overuse of antibiotics.
Below you’ll find useful information to educate your patients and help set expectations.
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Each year, thousands of people die from resistant infections
- In America, hospital-acquired infections, most of which are caused by antibiotic-resistant pathogens, result in an estimated 99 000 deaths each year.1
More antibiotics, more resistance
Data show there is a direct correlation between antibiotic use and resistance. Countries with higher consumption of antibiotics show higher resistance rates.1
Lack of investment in new antibiotics
Antibiotic resistance is compounded by the lack of investment in the development of novel antibiotics that could replace existing antimicrobial agents. This further emphasizes the importance of preserving the efficacy of existing agents.1
Antibiotics are most commonly prescribed for respiratory tract infections (RTIs), including URTIs. The majority of URTIs are non-serious and of viral etiology.1
Despite this, antibiotic prescription for RTIs and URTIs is extremely high, particularly for conditions like the common cold, sore throat, sinusitis, and influenza.1
- In the US, 68% of primary care antibiotic prescribing is for RTIs
The result is an increase in antibiotic resistance among bacterial organisms
For URTIs, symptomatic relief is often all that is necessary and antibiotics only have a modest effect, if any, on the duration of symptoms. However, there are many factors that continue to influence the overprescribing of antibiotics.
- Misconception about what antibiotics do
- Belief in healing power of the healthcare professional
- Return to work needs
- Day-care needs
Healthcare professional factors
- Real or perceived patient/parent pressure
- Economic concerns (eg, patients missing work, loss of client for healthcare professional)
- Reduced appointment time, allowing little time to educate patient
- Responsiveness to patient satisfaction surveys that may be salary-linked
- Lack of knowledge, or awareness of knowledge that is not implemented
Primary care physicians report they often feel pressure from patients to prescribe an antibiotic. Many patients believe that, regardless of their illness, antibiotics provide the quickest relief possible.
Below are a few helpful tools you can use to address patient demands and concerns.
Appropriate antibiotic use graphic
Intended for: Prescribers to use with patients insisting on an antibiotic
Description: Simple, easy-to-understand chart created by the Global Respiratory Infection Partnership that helps visually educate patients on antibiotic resistance and symptomatic treatment.
A guide to understanding your symptoms
Intended for: Patients
Description: Educates patients about the appropriate symptomatic relief from most URTIs and provides realistic symptom duration and advice on when to seek further treatment from the Global Respiratory Infection Partnership.
Antibiotics aren’t always the answer
Intended for: Parents of young children
Description: An educational brochure, provided by the CDC, that briefly explains 6 simple and smart facts about antibiotic use and when antibiotics can help treat your child’s illness.
Patient Education Video
Intended for: Patients
Description: An educational video developed by the Global Respiratory Infection Partnership that advises patients about when an antibiotic is appropriate for illness.
If you would like to incorporate this video on your portal or practice website, please contact us here.
1. Global Respiratory Infection Partnership Brochure. Meeting the needs of patients with upper respiratory tract infections. www.grip-initiative.org.