How often have you emphasized to patients, family, and friends that they must finish their prescribed antibiotics, even if they feel better? A provocative new analysis in BMJ takes a close look at why standard antibiotic protocols may promote, rather than prevent, antibiotic resistance.
The authors’ arguments center around two key points:
- The length of a course of antibiotic therapy is not evidence based, but rather “set by precedent [and] driven by fear of undertreatment.”
- Typical, prolonged courses of these drugs cause endogenous or colonizing bacteria to become antibiotic resistant. It is these “collateral” organisms, they argue, and not the organism that has actually caused the infection, that drive the spread of antibiotic resistance.
Individualized antibiotic courses.
The BMJ authors present a strong argument for more individualized courses of antibiotic treatment. Unfortunately, when the news media picked up this story, much of what was written and broadcast erroneously suggested that everyone should simply stop their antibiotics when they feel better. […]