Blue Cross Blue Shield study shows antibiotic prescriptions for outpatients have declined by 9 percent in recent years.
Saint Vincent Hospital pediatrician Anne Zomcik, M.D., has noticed a trend when parents bring their children for an office visit due to a sore throat, ear ache or bad cold.
Moms and dads aren’t asking for antibiotics as often as they used to do.
“We’ve certainly seen that the public has received a lot of education about antibiotics, both in the patients we see and when we look at the patients’ records,” said Zomcik, a doctor with Health + Wellness Pavilion — West Side, 4247 W. Ridge Road.
A recent study by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association shows that outpatient prescriptions for antibiotics declined by 9 percent between 2010 and 2016 among patients with BCBS insurance.
Reducing antibiotic prescriptions has been a goal of public-health officials worldwide for years because it is believed improper use has led to an increase in antibiotic-resistant strains of certain bacteria.
“Unfortunately, the data also show continued high use of broad-spectrum antibiotics for conditions where they have limited effectiveness, indicating there are further improvements to be made,” said Trent Haywood, M.D., the association’s chief medical officer.
Antibiotics shouldn’t be prescribed to patients with viral infections such as colds, flu, or sore throats that aren’t strep throat, Zomcik said.
“It doesn’t work on the viruses causing those illnesses, but bacteria in the patient’s body that isn’t causing a problem can be exposed to these antibiotics and build up resistance,” Zomcik said.
Drug-resistant bacteria have been a growing problem, leaving physicians with fewer antibiotics to treat patients with life-threatening illnesses.
What should parents do if their child develops a sore throat, ear ache or nasty cold? Zomcik offered these suggestions:
• Use appropriate over-the-counter medications such as a nasal decongestant, cough suppressant, or a pain reliever like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
• Put a humidifier in the child’s room to keep their throat and nasal passages moist.
• Gargle with salt water.
“If the child is still sick after two weeks, or they seem to get better then spike a fever or take a turn for the worse, there may be a secondary infection,” Zomcik said. “That’s when you should call your physician’s office.”
David Bruce can be reached at 870-1736 or by email. Follow him on Twitter at…