Antibiotics Aren’t Always the Answer: Tips for Helping Patients Find Value in their Visit and Co-Pay

As you already know, antibiotic resistance is an increasingly serious threat to our local communities and to global public health. So when a patient presents with symptoms of cold and flu, put something other than a prescription for antibiotics in their hands.

Consider the following tips to help your patients leave feeling value for their office visit and co-pay, even if you didn’t prescribe an antibiotic:
• Provide prescriptions for over the counter decongestants, cough suppressants, and analgesics that will provide symptomatic relief, as indicated.
• Educate patients on the threat of antibiotic resistance, the importance of flu and other vaccinations, and preventative measures. Click here for an excellent educational flyer provided by the CDC.
• If antibiotics are prescribed, talk to your patients about completing their full course of therapy, never sharing or using leftover antibiotics, causes of antibiotic resistance and the dangers of unnecessary use.
• Only prescribe and dispense antibiotics when they are truly needed, according to current guidelines.
• Monitor prescribing and resistance patterns in your practice.

The current antibiotic resistance crisis we are facing is a result of many contributing factors including over-prescribing and dispensing of antibiotics, misuse of antibiotics by patients, lack of new antibiotics under development, and poor infection control in medical offices and hospital settings. Each year in the U.S., at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria resistant to antibiotics and approximately 23,000 of these people die as a direct result of these infections (1). Antibiotics also cause 1 in 5 emergency department visits for adverse drug events and are the most common cause of emergency department visits for adverse drug events in children (2). For more information or educational materials on antibiotic resistance, please visit: www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/index.html.

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/index.html. Published August 17, 2016. Accessed November 10, 2016.
2. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/antibiotic-resistance/en/. Published October, 2016. Accessed November 8, 2016.