Doctors know not to prescribe antibiotics for viruses, yet patients often demand such drugs when they visit the doctor for a cold or flu. The result: antibiotic resistance and wasted money. Researchers at Harvard Medical School experimented with damping the demand for such inappropriate treatment with simple educational materials for patients. It wasn’t that successful: the best they could say was there appeared to be some improvement in knowledge among Medicaid recipients. Who knows whether that will translate into any real differences in antibiotic use. I’m skeptical.
Here are a couple other ideas:
- Train physicians to deflect requests for inappropriate antibiotics. Some are worried about losing patients to other physicians who write Rxs more liberally. That could be addressed by community-wide efforts at MD education. Ok, I’m skeptical of this idea, too.
- Require prior authorization for antibiotics in the case of viral diagnoses. That will stop docs from writing inappropriate Rxs or at least let the health plans and Medicad be the bad guys and say no if the docs can’t handle the chore