An Unnecessary Antibiotic Treatment

Many Doctors Are Prescribing Placebo Antibiotic Treatments

placebo antibiotic treatmentMany people go to the doctor when they come down with a particularly nasty bug. Many of these same people are prescribed antibiotic treatment for the ailment all well. What is unknown however is how many people who receive these antibiotic treatments are actually receiving antibiotics. Apparently placebo usage in this area is ramping up. Can anyone say "the high cost of health care?"

Placebo Usage in Medicine

"Placebos have been used in medicine since ancient times, and remain both clinically relevant and philosophically interesting," says Rachel Sherman, a fourth year medical student at the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine. As placebos have become a stalwart of clinical trials and have been shown to offer some of the same benefits of actual medicine it has become increasingly clear that in some situations the use of placebos in treatment of patients is appropriate however a recent survey of a group of Chicago internists show that the line between appropriate and inappropriate treatment is wearing thin.

Because of this it is becoming much more important to challenge your doctor to describe what he or she is actually prescribing you rather than to just blindly follow. Antibiotic treatment which are just sugar pills are an unnecessary expense.
In a recent study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, 45 percent of physicians reported using placebos in clinical practice. Some doctors are giving patients sugar pills, and others are going so far as to recommend antibiotics for a virus.

A growing number of doctors believe there is a strong connection between the mind and body. 96 percent of the doctors surveyed said they think placebos have therapeutic benefits. But because antibiotic resistance is a growing national health problem, it’s important not to take antibiotics unnecessarily.

Antibiotic Treatment Versus Placebo: You Choose What’s Best

What’s important to remember is that there are many positive benefits to using placebos but their use is not appropriate in all cases. Antibiotics will never cure a virus and as a result they will simply incrementally worsen antibiotic resistance (a topic I've only slightly covered in the past).

If your doctor tells you you have a virus and then prescribes an antibiotic it is important to make sure it’s actually necessary. You don’t necessarily need to know if you’re getting a placebo but you should know that you’re being treated.

A Placebo Antibiotic Treatment for a Cat?

An interesting story: My cat came down with a respiratory infection not too long ago and the vet prescribed both an antiviral and an antibiotic. When I got home I researched the antibiotic treatment that had been prescribed prescribed and found it to be nothing more than a nutritional food supplement akin to Airborne meant to help boost the immune system.

Now, this is not exactly the same thing as treating humans with placebos but it does illustrate that your doctor will often not adequately describe what is being prescribed if you don’t press him to do so. Had I pressed the vet to describe the meds and the theory behind the prescription I might have opted to simply drop the nutritional supplements which were completely unnecessary. Seriously for a cat is there even such things as a placebo?

Is This Pill Really Necessary?

Best Life offers one simple and effective piece of advice on this topic. They say to "beware of catch-all doctor phrases such as ‘This may help and won’t hurt’ and ask your doctor if the pill or antibiotic being prescribed is really necessary." At the very least you might avoid taking a needless antibiotic treatment and save a few dollars at the same time.

Best Life, Apr. 2008
Journal of General Internal Medicine, Jan. 2008
Medical News Today -

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