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Antibiotic prescription for acute bronchitis unnecessary

Imagine for a moment that you go into the doctor's office with acute bronchitis -- a very specific set of circumstances, mind you, but stick with us on this one. Your doctor checks on you and concludes that you do indeed have acute bronchitis, and that the way to treat this condition is to write you a prescription for antibiotics.

That sounds pretty reasonable, right? The antibiotics will help cure you of the acute bronchitis. Isn't this the way it's supposed to be?

As it turns out, the answer to that question is "no." For about four decades, there has been bountiful evidence that shows antibiotics should not be prescribed to help a patient who has acute bronchitis. More recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been urging doctors to not prescribe antibiotics for such patients -- and yet a new study found that 71 percent of patients from 1996 to 2010 that had acute bronchitis as their sole medical issue were given antibiotics.

A specific type of antibiotics -- elevated macrolides -- even saw an increased prescription rate during this period, from 25 percent in the 1996-1998 timeframe to 41 percent in the 2008-2010 timeframe.

This shows that doctors are not immune to perpetuating ineffective and obsolete tactics. Basically, it shows they are human, and humans make mistakes. But when a doctor or medical professional makes a mistake, they have to be held accountable. People trust and depend on medical professionals to perform flawlessly. When they don’t people are seriously hurt -- possibly fatally.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Way too many doctors are prescribing antibiotics in error, study says," Karen Kaplan, May 20, 2014

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