Are doctors really over-prescribing antibiotics & creating super-bugs that will kill us all?

Yet another media headline..
“Antibiotics are over prescribed by doctors and that’s creating super-bugs that will kill us all”.

I know many of my friends will hate me for this, but I’m calling bullshit.
Here is the story of how I recently changed my stance on the issue.

Ok so every media outlet publishes several stories a year about how we are creating ‘superbugs’ that are multi-drug resistant because, apparently, doctors are prescribing antibiotics un-necessarily. So my inner skeptic said to me “wait doctors are responsible, and medicine is one of the most regulated industries in the world; and most things to the contrary are some form of anti-vaccine/anti pharmaceutical quackery”. How could it be that the medical industry would put all of us at risk because they like to prescribe antibiotics (for some reason). I have rarely ever been given antibiotics; and even then it was a tentative thing because antibiotics have lots of nasty side effects. I never met a doctor who was like “hey you gota try these antibiotics man!”

Surely Wikipedia will give me lots of information on this subject, it is a major problem that will affect everyone when the super-bugs come to kill us all. — Well 4 short paragraphs does not help much at all. Ok, so I read 20 odd articles; they made vague claims, blamed doctors for everything. Some blamed GP’s exclusively and others said the blame was with hospital doctors. No articles gave their sources of information, often saying “authorities say”. But not telling me which authority. Many facts quoted in the articles evolved like a bad game of Chinese whispers. For example “USA total antibiotic prescription averaged out would be four treatments per five people” became “USA gives anitbiotcs to four out of every five people”.

So, I did a quick google scholar search, surely there must be a big study, covering tens of thousands of cases of these super bugs and clearly showing that these bugs were more common in areas where doctors were: A) more prevalent. B) where doctors favoured antibiotic treatment more. – Ok so no, that didn’t exist (or at least I cant find it). So lets look at the world health authority webpage; they never suck at telling it like it is. Hmm turns out “antibiotic overperscirption” is not a topic they list on their ‘big fucking list of everything that affects our health’ (here)   – Oh my god, how could they miss it; its like in every fucking newspaper!

The world health authority does talk about antimicrobials resistance” however. And shit, it is like a mega big problem! And these super bug outbreaks are real and could have an impact on our lives if we don’t do something. Heck, our best scientists and medical researchers got together to figure out what to do and created a list of 68 prioritized recommendations to fix the issue. Phew was I relived. Its all under control. I’ll open up this document and see the big print telling doctors to quit over-prescribing antibiotics as like the first point on the prioritized recommendations to fix the issue.

And yes there it is:    #1: “Educate patients and the general community on the appropriate use of antimicrobials”

Wait, what?…. I thought it was evil fucking uneducated doctors causing the problem, not us. I mean I read all the magazines and watch the news. Seriously they tell me its the doctors to blame.

Well, I could refute this report, and thus stay popular with all my other intellectual friends… But heck; I’m sure to piss them all off for some other reason anyway. So, If my radical notions against commonly accepted facts are enticing you to read more about the global strategies against “antimicrobial resistance”; namely:

  •  reducing the disease burden and the spread of infection
  •  improving access to appropriate antimicrobials
  •  improving use of antimicrobials
  •  strengthening health systems and their surveillance capabilities
  •  enforcing regulations and legislation
  •  encouraging the development of appropriate new drugs and vaccines

Then I suggest reading this:…/WHO_Global_Strategy_English.pdf