A study has found that nearly half of patients prescribed an antibiotic at an urgent care don’t need one.
The study indicates that urgent care staff are prescribing antibiotics nearly three times as often as traditional medical offices.
Doctors are warning about the risk of severe side effects that come with taking even just one dose of medicine the body doesn’t need.
“I think people expect to take a pill for every ailment,” said Dr. Raja Gill from OSU Medical Center.
But often, pills are useless and doctors say overuse of antibiotics can do more harm than good.
“Sometimes that can cause other super-infections because it will kill the normal flora, or the normal bacteria that we have that fight infection anyway,” said Gill.
Superbugs like the “nightmare bacteria” can have a death rate as high as 50 percent.
“They can genetically change their structures and develop resistance,” stated Gill.
Researchers found 46 percent of patients at walk-in clinics were prescribed an unnecessary antibiotic for a viral respiratory infection, compared to 24 percent at emergency rooms and 17 percent at medical offices.
“With some urgent care centers, they may be staffed by nurse practitioners or sometimes physician assistants,” said Gill.
Gill says that part of the problem is pressure from patients, who give bad ratings if they’re not given antibiotics. It’s what Gill calls “the YELP effect.”
With ratings on the line and time per patient on the clock, Dr. Gill recommends asking a lot of questions before popping what could be a useless pill for a cold, the flu, or bronchitis.
The authors of the study say intervention at urgent cares is urgently needed.
While walk-in clinics are convenient, the staff doesn’t form relationships with the patient like doctors at medical offices can do, and that can prevent prescribing an antibiotic that won’t work.