Doctors tend to prescribe too much antibiotics and narcotics, survey says

Doctors tend to prescribe too much antibiotics and narcotics, survey says

A recent survey has found that doctors tend to overprescribe antibiotics and narcotics to a lot of their patients.

A recent survey was done on a number of U.S. physicians, asking to identify which types of treatment are routinely used despite recommendations against the interventions and offering little value to patients.

"We need to start concentrating on high-value care"

A whopping 27% of doctors said that overuse of antibiotics was the most common problem, while 7.3% of the physicians surveyed said that over prescription of narcotics were another problem.

Dr. Amir Qaseem, lead author of the study, shares:

"We need to start concentrating on high-value care. The value of any intervention is when you look at the benefits and harms and cost together."

For example, HIV treatment is very expensive but that doesn’t mean it’s low value because it’s very effective. Antibiotics can be very cheap but they can be low value because they often aren’t necessary."

In addition to the overuse of antibiotics and narcotics, 5% of the respondents said dietary supplements such as vitamin D, fish oil, calcium, and multivitamins are overused. An additional 5% also cited statins and other cholesterol-lowering medicine as overused, especially among the elderly.

Patients shouldn’t be shy about questioning doctors

The results suggest that doctors are aware of the guidelines regarding prescriptions, and that they're on board with avoiding low-value care, Dr. David Levine, a researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston suggests.

He adds, "Clinicians who stray from guidelines may, or may not, have good reasons for doing so. The guidelines may not be applicable to the patient in front of them, or they may not realize the newest recommendations now counsel against a treatment or procedure they learned in medical school."

Dr. Sharon Levine, executive vice president of The Permanente Federation at Kaiser Permanente in California, adds that patients shouldn't be shy about questioning their doctors.

She adds, "These types of questions promote a healthy dialogue about the probability that a recommended therapy will result in an outcome that is high value for the patient."

Go to the next page to learn more about cutting back on prescription medicine.

How can we cut back on prescription medicine?

While doctors do actually know what they're doing, some doctors do tend to have a habit of over prescribing medicine. If you feel that your physician might be giving you too much prescription medicine, here are some things that you can do to cut back:

  1. Ask for alternatives. There's nothing wrong with asking your doctor if there's a natural alternative or a different type of medicine that you can take. If you feel that you're taking too much antibiotics, communicate it with your doctor so that they can figure out an alternative treatment plan.
  2. Don't be afraid to look for a second opinion. If you think that your doctor has been prescribing you too much medicine, don't be afraid to ask another doctor for a second opinion. Who knows, they might be able to better help you in a much more natural way, without using too prescription medicine.
  3. Be more specific about your symptoms. In some cases, doctors prescribe antibiotics as a general way to cure your ailments. In some cases, being more specific about your symptoms can better help your doctor diagnose your specific problem and can also help them find the correct treatment for you.
  4. Talk to your doctor about your apprehension. Talk to your doctor if you feel that you're being given too much antibiotics. You should have a conversation with your doctor so that they can help assuage your fears about being prescribed medicine that might not work for your disease.


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Written by

Nasreen Majid

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