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Antibiotics overused with failure to diagnose, study says

The improper and overuse of antibiotics is a serious problem facing patients and health care providers in New Jersey. Unfortunately, the failure to diagnose a patient properly can lead to wrongly prescribing an antibiotic. Taking antibiotics when not needed can cause a lot more harm than just reducing their overall effectiveness.

Over half of patients admitted to hospitals in the United States are prescribed antibiotics, but fewer than half of them may actually need them. A research group chose to analyze the cases of 500 inpatients at a hospital local to its area, and discovered in that institution alone that 42 percent of patients never actually received the right diagnosis for their illness. Patients who received the wrong diagnosis or were never diagnosed with anything specific received inappropriate antibiotic regimens at an alarming rate of 95 percent.

The researchers concluded that more efforts should be made to actually diagnosis a patient correctly, otherwise it is not immediately obvious if antibiotics should be used or withheld. However, this would require health care workers to focus more on correct analysis rather than their own intuition. Even if this switch did occur, the researchers also concluded that many patients were wrongly diagnosed or prescribed unnecessary antibiotics because many doctors were suffering from fatigue and sleep deprivation.

Many New Jersey patients have experienced going to the doctor with various symptoms and then leaving with a prescription for antibiotics but no definitive diagnosis. Medical experts are perhaps only just now understanding the true harm that this can cause by delaying different and necessary courses of treatment. Unfortunately, a failure to diagnose that results in the wrong or delayed treatment can cause the victim to suffer serious injuries and take on mountains of related medical bills. For most people, one of the most effective courses of action for seeking recourse is a medical malpractice suit, which may provide much-needed compensation when properly managed.

Source: consumer.healthday.com, "Improper Antibiotic Use Often Due to Misdiagnosis: Study", Robert Preidt, May 20, 2015

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Alan D. Bell
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