Antibiotics are a powerful weapon against infections and are often the last line of defense against a patient's death. Yet, their misuse can cause more harm than good. That's why it's critically important to make sure patients receive the right dosage of the right medicine. The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America released a definitive study recently that shows the top culprit for antibiotics being prescribed unnecessarily: misdiagnoses.
In the study, 500 patients who were prescribed antibiotics were observed. Out of this sample group, only about 60 percent of them absolutely needed these drugs. The rest were either wrong diagnoses, or it was not sure if antibiotics were the right choice. The study found that, in the misdiagnosed cases, the drugs were often used to treat a symptom instead of the sickness itself. Even when the diagnosis was correct, using antibiotics was the right course of action in only about 60 percent of the time.
With the most recent studies showing only 240 physicians for every 100,000 residents in New Orleans, it is no secret that doctors and nurses are often overworked and therefore prone to mistakes. Even so, they are entrusted with the lives of others. The author of the study suggests instilling new strategies and utilizing new tools to make sure antibiotics are not being erroneously used for treatment.
Those who were misdiagnosed and given antibiotics, only to experience a worsened medical condition, may want to contact a medical malpractice attorney. They may be able to give you guidance on the best course of action.
Source: Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, "Diagnostic Errors that Lead to Inappropriate Antimicrobial Use," Gregory A. Filice et. al., May 18, 2015