Combating the threat of antibiotic resistance

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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Key facts about the growing danger of antibiotic resistance

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 for URTIs

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

Factors that can lead to overprescribing of antibiotics

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.

Patient/parent factors

  • Anxiety
  • 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

Addressing patient pressure when prescribing antibiotics

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.

Watch Video


1. Global Respiratory Infection Partnership Brochure. Meeting the needs of patients with upper respiratory tract infections.