Doctors are being praised for their ‘lucky’ and ‘lulled’ decision to prescribe antibiotics for patients who do not have fever.
A new study has found that those who take these drugs are more likely to see patients with mild or moderate illness, according to the Medical News Daily.
The findings are from the new study published online in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins University and Vanderbilt University surveyed nearly 12,000 doctors and nurses in the US to track the health of patients diagnosed with COVID-19, also known as coronaviruses, and those who had not yet tested positive.
Researchers found that people who had been diagnosed with mild illness were more likely than those who did not to be prescribed antibiotics.
This may be due to a lack of treatment options for people with mild symptoms, the study found.
The researchers also found that doctors who took antibiotics were more than twice as likely to prescribe them as those who took no antibiotics.
The study found that the rate of antibiotic prescribing in hospitals and in emergency rooms was highest in places with higher rates of severe illness, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and prisons.
Those in the top quintile of the severity of illness were also more likely, on average, to take antibiotics than those in the lowest quintile.
However, the authors of the study said that the findings did not mean that doctors are over prescribing antibiotics.
They noted that there is a lag time between a patient being diagnosed with a COVID infection and a doctor’s prescribing antibiotics to that patient.
“It could be that they are prescribing antibiotics too early, but they might be prescribing too much,” Dr David Beeson, a professor of infectious diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and one of the authors, told Medical News Day.
He added that it is possible that antibiotics could be triggering the emergence of new strains of COVID that are more difficult to treat.
Dr Andrew Brown, a consultant paediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who was not involved in the study, said he believes that the lack of flu vaccine is the main reason why so many doctors are prescribing them.
“We’re not getting a lot of flu shots in the United States.
We’re getting a whole lot of antibiotics, which makes us more susceptible to these strains of infections,” Dr Brown told Medical Newstalk.
He also said that it was difficult to pinpoint the precise reason for the rise in prescribing antibiotics in hospitals.
He said that doctors may have been giving patients antibiotics too soon, or because of fears that the new strains were less dangerous.
Dr Beeson said that while there is no evidence that antibiotics are causing the emergence or spreading of new COVID strains, he did believe that the increased use of antibiotics could contribute to that.
Dr Brown said that even if doctors were prescribing antibiotics more often, the drugs were not always safe.
“There’s no evidence to say that you should start prescribing antibiotics, or that you shouldn’t,” he said.
He noted that in the past, there was a high number of antibiotics given to children and pregnant women.
Dr Benetemal Suresh, a specialist in infectious diseases and director of the Child and Adolescent Infectious Diseases Program at Children’s Mercy, agreed that the increase in antibiotic prescriptions was troubling.
She said that people may have misdiagnosed COVID as a cold or a virus.
“I’m concerned that we’re getting an infection that is not the cold, but it is actually very infectious,” she said.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that infections caused by COVID are still rare in the general population.
However the agency has recently added the word ‘incubating’ to the official list of illnesses.
This means that patients may have had a mild or non-infectious COVID illness that did not develop into pneumonia or even influenza, the CDC has said.
If you or anyone you know is suffering from a COVI infection, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
Call 000.03333 to receive the National Emergency Number.
The National Coronavirus Preparedness Alert has also been updated to reflect the new findings.
A further update can be found here.