Educating a Patient on the Need for Antibiotics and Alternatives for Antibiotics



Educating a Patient on the Need for Antibiotics and Alternatives for Antibiotics

QUESTION
A 41-year-old male presents to the doctor’s office you work at complaining of a sore throat and headache. Upon examination, he is diagnosed with a virus that is currently prevalent in the area he works. He is told to rest and drink liquids until the virus has run its course. He becomes irate and tells you he wants an antibiotic.

How could you explain to him why he does not need an antibiotic?
What are some alternatives you could consider for a patient who demands an antibiotic?
Educating a Patient on the Need for Antibiotics and Alternatives for Antibiotics

ANSWER
Educating a Patient on the Need for Antibiotics and Alternatives for Antibiotics

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Educating a Patient on the Need for Antibiotics and Alternatives for Antibiotics
Medical practice is guided by ethics and standards of care, which ensure that care provided to patients is effective, appropriate, high quality, and safe. However, some patients may be misinformed regarding what medications they should take when feeling particular symptoms (Al-Shawi et al., 2018). As a doctor, I must explain to the patients their conditions and why the medication prescribed will most effectively address their condition. This, however, should not involve disregarding their concerns or opinion but making them understand why the prescribed medications are more effective and safer. In this scenario where the patient wants antibiotics despite having a viral infection, I would first understand their condition and how uncomfortable it could be hence the need to seek medications to reverse the symptoms quickly.
I would then go ahead and educate the patient regarding his condition, which is caused by a virus and an antibiotic; therefore would not be helpful since, with adequate rest and fluid intake, it is often self-limiting. I will also explain to him that antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections, and using them while suffering from viral infections would not help relieve the symptoms but only result in future consequences such as antimicrobial resistance, which will render such antibiotics ineffective when they are supposed to be useful (Hulscher & Prins, 2017). The discomfort associated with such infections could be a reason for the patient to insist on and demand to have antibiotics, hoping that they would be the most effective in making them feel better. In instances where patients demand antibiotics, I would provide alternative medications that will help relieve the symptoms, which are sore throat and headache. I would prescribe throat drops to help relieve sore throat symptoms and Tylenol or other pain-relieving medications for the headache (Essack et al., 2018). I would also advise the patient to maintain hygiene, especially their hands, and have enough rest for quick recovery.
References
Al-Shawi, M. M., Darwish, M. A., Wahab, M. M. A., & Al-Shamlan, N. A. (2018). Misconceptions of parents about antibiotic use in upper respiratory tract infections: A survey in primary schools of the Eastern province, KSA. Journal of family & community medicine, 25(1), 5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc5774044/
Essack, S., Bell, J., & Shephard, A. (2018). Community pharmacists—Leaders for antibiotic stewardship in respiratory tract infection. Journal of clinical pharmacy and therapeutics, 43(2), 302-307. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jcpt.12650
Hulscher, M. E. J. L., & Prins, J. M. (2017). Antibiotic stewardship: does it work in hospital practice? A review of the evidence base. Clinical Microbiology and Infection, 23(11), 799-805. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1198743X17303944

Educating a Patient on the Need for Antibiotics and Alternatives for Antibiotics


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