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Is the Fear of Lawsuits Reason Enough for
Some Doctors to Overprescribe Antibiotics?

What to Watch Out for and Why!
© 2018 Health Realizations, Inc. Update

 

As MRSA infections continue to increase in health care and community settings, researchers from New York Medical College decided to look into a unique -- and potentially concerning -- reason why.

Are some doctors overprescribing antibiotics, with detrimental side effects to some family members' health and society’s, because they’re afraid of being sued?

After analyzing census figures, statistics on population density of attorneys and physicians, and data on antibiotic use and MRSA prevalence in the United States, Canada and 15 European countries, they found a strong correlation between MRSA rates and density of attorneys in both Europe and North America.

Further, upon surveying 162 health care providers to gauge their feelings about medical liability concerns, the researchers found physicians were more concerned about medical liability for under-prescribing antibiotics as opposed to over-prescribing them.

The researchers concluded that such medical liability concerns may be encouraging physicians to prescribe antibiotics more often than necessary … and leading to the increase of MRSA, which is a type of antibiotic-resistant staph infection. As stated in the study’s abstract:

“Further investigation is warranted to study whether physicians' perceived fear of lawsuits, of which attorney density may be a crude surrogate marker, results in antibiotic prescription practices that contribute to the emergence of antimicrobial resistance among virulent pathogens such as S. aureus, with global implications on the ethics of the delivery of quality health care to all members of society.”

Why is Overusing Antibiotics So Dangerous?

Antibiotics are "not" inherently dangerous. In fact, when prescribed for bacterial infections like pneumonia, tuberculosis and meningitis they can be, and often are, life-saving.

However, the problem with antibiotics is that they are too often prescribed to treat viruses -- against which they are useless. Viruses like upper respiratory infections, measles, mumps, chickenpox, flu, and gastroenteritis are all viral infections, which antibiotics do nothing for.

Antibiotics do kill bacteria, and they do this quite well. The problem is that they not only kill the bad bacteria that may be causing your illness, but they also kill ALL bacteria, including the good kind in your digestive tract that your body needs, leaving barren territory for all sorts of trouble to brew.

If you have taken antibiotics unnecessarily, for a virus, for instance, you have therefore killed off all of the good bacteria in your system and may be more vulnerable to MRSA and other infections.

On a larger scale, using antibiotics unnecessarily not only kills of beneficial bacteria in your body, it is also leading to the increase of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Antibiotic-Resistance 101

Bacteria are highly intelligent and able to quickly transform to become resistant to even our strongest antibiotics.

Antibiotic resistance develops when bacteria change in some way to resist the effects of an antibiotic. They may, for instance, “learn” how to neutralize the antibiotic before it can do harm, or pump the antibiotic out before it can do any damage. Others can even change the site the antibiotic attacks so it doesn’t affect the bacteria’s function.

Bacteria can even become antibiotic resistant because of a mutation in their genetic material or by acquiring parts of DNA from resistant bacteria. If even one bacteria is able to survive an antibiotic, it can quickly multiply and replace the bacteria that were killed off.

“Antibiotic resistance has been called one of the world's most pressing public health problems. Almost every type of bacteria has become stronger and less responsive to antibiotic treatment when it is really needed.

These antibiotic-resistant bacteria can quickly spread to family members, schoolmates, and co-workers -- threatening the community with a new strain of infectious disease that is more difficult to cure and more expensive to treat. For this reason, antibiotic resistance is among CDC's top concerns,” writes the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“If a microbe is resistant to many drugs, treating the infections it causes can become difficult or even impossible. Someone with an infection that is resistant to a certain medicine can pass that resistant infection to another person. In this way, a hard-to-treat illness can be spread from person to person. In some cases, the illness can lead to serious disability or even death,” the CDC continues.

So "if" some local area doctors truly are overprescribing antibiotics for fear of being sued, they are doing you and society a major disservice.

Agricultural Antibiotic Use a Major Concern

You’re exposed to antibiotics not only by prescription but also through the food you eat.

About 70 percent of all antibiotics produced in the United States are given to livestock and poultry, which you then feed to your family.

Further, when drugs are excreted in waste, the compounds linger in the environment. In the case of livestock waste, the antibiotic-laced manure is spread directly onto farm crops as fertilizer. From there it may run off into nearby streams.

The result is that bacteria is able to mutate into strains that are resistant to the widely spread antibiotics, paving the way for infections that cannot be easily cured.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 2 million people in hospitals get infections each year, which cause 90,000 deaths. Of these, more than 70 percent of the bacteria that causes these infections are resistant to at least one common antibiotic that is typically used to treat them.

Further, new research from the University of Iowa found a new strain of MRSA in 70 percent of hogs and 64 percent of workers on farms that routinely use antibiotics. Experts are now realizing that these drug-resistant bacteria can spread via the food supply, water runoff and other methods, potentially putting the entire population at risk.

How to Protect Yourself From Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs

“When antibiotics were first used they could kill off most any strain of infection-causing bacteria. But all bacteria are highly intelligent and future strains of pathogenic bacteria mutated to become stronger and meaner.

These new, genetically changed bacteria are resistant to even our strongest antibiotics, and newer generations of these antibiotic-resistant bacteria are multiplying. The result is that we are now forced to create even more potent antibiotics to kill these more virile bacteria. In the end we humans lose the vicious cycle.

Now that we know that pathogenic bacteria have an astounding ability to adapt and will continue to overcome even our most powerful antibiotics we must find another way to fight back,” writes Donna Gates, nutritional consultant.

The key to protecting yourself against these pathogens is to build your own natural immunity by changing your inner environment so no unfriendly bacteria would want to live there. And the way to do this is to make sure you have enough good bacteria present to keep the bad bacteria at bay.

Fortify your gut and immune system health with Probiotic.

Have You Recently Taken Antibiotics?

Studies have shown that probiotics may be helpful with both immune system modulation and allergies, plus again they’re imperative if you’ve recently been on antibiotic therapy. It’s a simple step that may help keep you and your family in the best health possible.

Cultured foods, such as kefir (a fermented milk drink that tastes like tart yogurt) and traditionally fermented sauerkraut, natto and other fermented vegetables are also among the best sources of probiotics around. So in addition to taking a high-quality probiotic supplement, adding these probiotic-rich foods to your diet is also important.

Boosting Your Immune Defenses With Food

Also important for immune system health is eating plenty of raw foods. Raw plant and animal foods (such as raw milk) are loaded with beneficial enzymes for your body. Enzymes are special proteins that act as catalysts for the chemical reactions that occur to keep your body functioning. However, enzymes begin to be destroyed at temperatures above 110-115 degrees. So if your food is cooked, pasteurized or processed, it will contain no enzymes whatsoever.

This is why eating raw foods can actually be very beneficial for your health. Be generous with consuming raw fruits and vegetables, and also consider adding other sources of raw food to your diet, such as raw milk, raw organic eggs and raw-milk cheese.

For tips on incorporating more raw foods into your family’s diet, check out the easy recipes in the book “Alive in 5”: Raw Gourmet Meals in Five Minutes. It’ll help you eat healthier while enjoying delicious creations like pina colada smoothies, lasagna, stuffed mushrooms and cream of zucchini soup.

Another option if your diet consists primarily of cooked foods is to take an enzyme supplement. There are numerous enzyme supplements available on the market to help increase your levels.

Tips to Stop Contributing to the Spread of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

First, cut down on your exposure to antibiotics by only taking them when they’re absolutely necessary, and do not seek antibiotic use for a non-bacterial infection.

If you are taking antibiotics, be sure you take them as prescribed and finish the entire treatment. If you stop too soon, some bacteria may survive and re-infect you.

Buy Organic

Next, purchase organic meat and dairy products (which are antibiotic-free). This will not only help your family directly, but you’ll also be sending a message to agribusiness that you won’t support farming practices that endanger the environment and public health.

You can also trade in your antibacterial soaps and cleansers for natural varieties.

According to the CDC, “Antibacterial-containing products have not been proven to prevent the spread of infection better than products that do not contain antibacterial chemicals.”

But, these harsh chemicals may be contributing to the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Further, if your environment is to clean it will not provide the necessary germ exposures needed to “educate” your immune system so it will know how to launch defenses against infectious organisms.

Not only can it make your immune responses inadequate, but it may cause your immune system to overreact to substances in your environment that would ordinarily be harmless, such as pollen, dust or pet dander.

As you transition to a more natural, healthier lifestyle using some of the tips described in this article, your need for antibiotics will likely go down and your immune system will take over in helping to defend you against bacteria, viruses and other contagious diseases.

You can also help to curb the spread of antibiotic resistance in your community by sharing these tips with your friends and family, and urging them to read this article to learn why the overuse of antibiotics may be threatening their health.

 


Sources

American Journal of Therapeutics - Volume 16 - Issue 5 - pp e1-e6

EurekAlert.org

CDC.gov Get Smart: Antibiotic Resistance


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