A Dec. 5, 2016, United Press International story once again illustrates the ongoing practice of medical doctors prescribing drug treatments despite knowing they wouldn’t be effective.
The story reports on the results of a survey conducted by the American College of Physicians, which asked 5,000 of their members to identify two drug treatments frequently used by internists that were unlikely to provide high-value care to patients.
Of those surveyed, 27 percent said that they administered antibiotics even though they knew the drugs would not be effective. The most common scenario described was for upper respiratory illnesses that are mostly caused by viruses. Viruses are not affected by antibiotics, making the use of those drugs totally worthless in those situations.
Other scenarios revealed by the survey showed that 9 percent of the aggressive treatments for terminally ill patients were of “questionable value.” Additionally, 7 percent of medications for chronic pain were determined to be of little value ,according to the survey of doctors who gave out these drugs.
“There is a lot of waste in our health care system, and we need to acknowledge that,” said Dr. Amir Qaseem, vice president of clinical policy for the American College of Physicians (ACP) and chair of the ACP’s High Value Care Task Force.
The overuse of antibiotics has contributed to the increase of deadly superbug bacteria that are resistant to antibiotic treatments. The UPI article reports that according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States alone, more than 2 million people a year are infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Even worse is that at least 23,000 of these people die each year as a direct result of these untreatable infections.
The CDC estimated that half of all antibiotics given to patients are not necessary. This translates into approximately 47 million unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics in the U.S. each year.
Addressing why doctors continue to prescribe antibiotics unnecessarily, Qaseem said: “If a patient shows up in a physician’s practice and they have an upper respiratory tract infection, it is most often viral and will resolve itself in a few days,” Qaseem said. “You tell the patient to go home, rest, and it will be OK, but generally the expectation of a patient is that you will do something more than that.”
While drugs and surgery are called for in certain situations, I am a firm believer in the human body’s ability to heal itself. Chiropractic care plays a key role in that healing by removing nervous system interference so that people can stay healthy without the use of dangerous drugs or unnecessary surgery.
Call our office today at 425-778-9600 for a consultation, and see if we can help you live a healthier life in 2017.
— Dr. Waldron