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article imageTime to clamp down on 'soft touch' doctors?

By Tim Sandle     Aug 25, 2015 in Health
London - Should doctors who indiscriminately administer antibiotics to appease patients where there is no clinical need to do so be fined? This is the call of a leading health expert.
So-called "soft touch" medical doctors should face fines or even disciplinary action if they over-prescribe antibiotics, especially for viral diseases or form conditions that will clear-up without the need for scarce drugs. This is the call made by Professor Mark Baker, director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
In the U.K., it is estimated, by The Daily Telegraph, that family doctors ('General Practitioners' or GPs) are writing out some 10 million prescriptions of antibiotics annually for coughs, colds and minor infections. The risk is not just with giving useless medications, which are expensive; the main problem is with the build-up of antimicrobial resistance by pathogenic bacteria and such bacteria pose a risk to those in hospital, especially the very young, the elderly and the immunocompromised.
To slowdown the tide, NICE, a U.K. government body, has produced a new guideline informing doctors to hold back initially with antibiotic treatments to see if symptoms clear-up. The guidance also instructs medics to stop issuing antimicrobial drugs for minor illnesses like sore throats and urinary tract infections.
Although there are medics who hand out antibiotics as if they were candies, part of the fault lies with patients who increasingly expect to be given a pill for every ailment. The greatest pressure comes from those with colds or who are suffering with the flu. With these viral conditions, antibiotics or antimicrobials (drugs designed to target specific bacteria) are entirely useless.
Professor Baker said in an interview with The Independent: “It's entrenched in our society. There are people who are addicted to the idea of having antibiotics. If they [patients] know there's a soft-touch doctor then they go to them. Often they'll go to their GP and then try another one, and then go on to an Accident and Emergency department."
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