Written by Marcus H.
Although the administration of antibiotics is utilized as a life saving intervention for minor to severe bacterial infections, the misuse and abuse of antibiotics is resulting in bacteria, building a resistance to antibiotic medications. Bacteria are doing so at an alarming rate. The root of this problem is the consequence of two main sources, physician’s misuse and the public not being properly educated about antibiotic resistance. The over prescribing of antibiotics must be reduced, and the public properly educated about antibiotic resistance, or there will soon be no antibiotics to treat bacterial infections.
Antibiotic resistance was discovered in the 1940’s. Physicians started noticing that Penicillin was not curing some bacterial illnesses that it had cured in the past. So what was the solution to this problem? Scientists and researchers started to develop stronger antibiotic medications in an attempt to counterattack the resistance. This temporary solution continues to this date. In this solution lies the problem, bacteria are adaptable microorganisms that are evolving stronger and faster than researchers can develop antibiotic medications. The 1994 Chief Medical Officer of Scotland presented a startling prediction about the extinction of antibiotics. The prediction was as follows:
In 1994, the then Chief Medical Officer of Scotland predicted that we will have run out of antibiotics by 2020; the rise in resistance would far outstrip the dwindling supply of new antibiotics. (Amyes 233).
This prediction by the Chief Medical Officer of Scotland is alarming and shows the importance of antibiotic resistance issues.
Physicians are a significant factor in the growing rate of antibiotic resistance. Medical experts have established the fact that most physicians are over prescribing antibiotic medications causing resistance to increase. Medical scientists showed that:
In 1980, doctors wrote about 900,000 prescriptions for the antibiotic cephalosporin, commonly used to treat ear infections in children. By 1992, the number of those prescriptions climbed to almost 7 million — an increase of 680%. Prescriptions for an equally powerful antibiotic — amoxicillin — have increased by 200%, according to researchers at Yale University School of Medicine. (Colette Bouchez).
This medical research, conducted by Yale University School of Medicine, undoubtedly proves the over prescribing of antibiotics and its role in antibiotic resistance.
Public education is vital to the fight against antibiotic resistance. Many myths and misconceptions exist about antibiotic medication. People often demand antibiotics for illnesses such as, influenza, the common cold, and many other viral infections. The problem with that is, antibiotics do not kill viruses, they only cure bacterial infections. A study conducted by the U.S. National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey revealed that, “between 1989 and 1999, approximately 73% of patients with sore throats asked for — and received — unnecessary antibiotics.” (Colette Bouchez). The study clearly shows that most of the public are unaware of the proper use of antibiotics, and proves that awareness and education needs to start.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are currently in the process of developing ways to reduce antibiotic resistance, but it is not enough. The (FDA) must implement stricter guidelines and protocols on prescribing antibiotics for physicians to follow. Furthermore, infomercials on antibiotic resistance and the proper use of antibiotics would be an excellent way of educating the public. These practical ideas would greatly decrease antibiotic resistance.
It could take years until researchers find ways of defeating antibiotic resistance, but in the meanwhile, the best defense start with the public and physicians. If antibiotic resistance is not resolved, we could be seeing ourselves in an era of pandemics and epidemics commonly seen before the invention of antibiotics.