So What Do We Do?
family doctors surveyed across all ages admitted to feeling burned out.
A 2014 Brigham and Women's study found that providers write more antibiotic prescriptions in the afternoons than mornings; this suggests “decision fatigue” on the part of providers. Many admit that they are bombarded daily with patient requests for antibiotics. Because of the increased pressures created by the new healthcare environment, patient education must occur outside of the actual face-toface interaction with their doctor: for example, displaying more educational poster materials in the exam rooms, increasing use of patient educational handouts, and relying more on mid-level providers such as nurse practitioners to handle counseling. These can all help reduce inappropriate prescribing practices, while also maintaining or improving patient satisfaction. Web materials, digital communications, and social media also provide mechanisms to communicate with one's patient base in a more streamlined manner before and after the visit.
In the end, these measures may not always be adequate or efficient. There will always be a professional desire and pressure to intervene when a patient shows up in the office, urgent care, or emergency room. In these cases, there is likely an expanded role for welldesigned supplements as a tangible solution to patient pressure for unnecessary antibiotics.
This is how the EZC Pak, the first physician-formulated five-day tapered immune support pack, came about. Composed of certified organic Echinacea, zinc, and vitamin C, the EZC Pak was designed out of professional concern to address the problem of inappropriate antibiotic use. Capsules are taken at a higher frequency initially then tapered off over five days. By providing patients with concrete physician-directed guidance, the EZC Pak has had excellent early results in reducing inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions by providers, while allowing them to maintain—and in many cases, improve—patient satisfaction.
“It's clear that we're approaching a cliff with antibiotic resistance,” says CDC director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. “Clinicians and healthcare systems need to improve prescribing practices, and patients need to recognize that there are both risks and benefits to antibiotics: More medicine isn't best; the right medicine at the right time is best.”
My professional hope is that healthcare providers understand their role in stemming the tide of drug resistance. Additionally, I want them to recognize and utilize the tools at their disposal to educate their patients about the appropriate use of antibiotics and the role supplements can play in improving healthcare practices. We must remember: When it comes to infectious diseases—particularly in our globalized society—responsible decision-making is just as critical to our own personal health as it is to our collective public health.
Sarath Malepati, MD, is the founder and medical director of the PPC Group. For more information about Dr. Malepati’s most current project, the EZC Pak, visit ezcpak.com. Over 100 million Americans have elevated Cholesterol levels. Many do not know that they are at risk for heart disease. Don’t wait until your next physical to find out!