Patient Perception of Antibiotics
What's more, the findings of the survey are in line with the current number of antibiotic prescriptions being written. A 2013 retrospective study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that US physicians and associated healthcare providers prescribed 258 million courses of outpatient antibiotics for a population of approximately 309 million Americans in 2010. On average, this translates to more than eight antibiotics for every 10 people. This inappropriate practice—unnecessary prescriptions and physician uncertainty—has helped to fuel the current era of rising drug resistance and superbug infections.
Drug resistance rates are now 15 to 25 percent for certain commonly used antibiotics in the Western Hemisphere—and even higher in many developing nations. There are now two million drug-resistant infections in the United States annually resulting in 23,000 deaths. It is estimated that the number of global deaths due to drugresistant infections will surpass cancer by the year 2050. The World Health Organization now calls drug resistance “an increasingly serious threat to global public health that requires action across all government sectors and society.” The same WebMD survey also asked patients why they requested an antibiotic. These were their responses:
These data suggest that a large educational gap between providers and their patients is contributing to the problem. With declining reimbursement rates promoting increased healthcare consolidation and the parallel consumerization of healthcare, doctors are under more pressure than ever before. Beyond the lack of reimbursement for patient counseling and education, not acquiescing to patient demands in this era can lead to loss of business to competitors or worse: loss of employment and frivolous malpractice lawsuits.
The culture and working conditions of the current era of medicine is clearly taking its toll on the front lines of primary care. According to the 2015 Family Physician Lifestyle Report, 43 percent of US family physicians younger than 35 feel “burned out;” this was defined as “loss of enthusiasm for work, feelings of cynicism, and a low sense of personal accomplishment.” This statistic has dramatically increased from 2013, when less than 10 percent stated they felt burned out. In fact, in the more recent survey, 50 percent of US