A recent survey has found that doctors tend to overprescribe antibiotics and narcotics to a lot of their patients.
A recent survey was done on a number of U.S. physicians, asking to identify which types of treatment are routinely used despite recommendations against the interventions and offering little value to patients.
“We need to start concentrating on high-value care”
A whopping 27% of doctors said that overuse of antibiotics was the most common problem, while 7.3% of the physicians surveyed said that overprescription of narcotics were another problem.
Dr. Amir Qaseem, lead author of the study, shares:
“We need to start concentrating on high-value care. The value of any intervention is when you look at the benefits and harms and cost together.”
For example, HIV treatment is very expensive but that doesn’t mean it’s low value because it’s very effective. Antibiotics can be very cheap but they can be low value because they often aren’t necessary.”
In addition to the overuse of antibiotics and narcotics, 5% of the respondents said dietary supplements such as vitamin D, fish oil, calcium, and multivitamins are overused. An additional 5% also cited statins and other cholesterol-lowering medicine as overused, especially among the elderly.
Patients shouldn’t be shy about questioning doctors
The results suggest that doctors are aware of the guidelines regarding prescriptions, and that they’re onboard with avoiding low-value care, Dr. David Levine, a researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston suggests.
He adds, “Clinicians who stray from guidelines may, or may not, have good reasons for doing so. The guidelines may not be applicable to the patient in front of them, or they may not realize the newest recommendations now counsel against a treatment or procedure they learned in medical school.”
Dr. Sharon Levine, executive vice president of The Permanente Federation at Kaiser Permanente in California, adds that patients shouldn’t be shy about questioning their doctors.
She adds, “These types of questions promote a healthy dialogue about the probability that a recommended therapy will result in an outcome that is high value for the patient.”
Go to the next page to learn more about cutting back on prescription medicine.