The opioid abuse problem continues unabated, despite public health efforts to curb the use of narcotic painkillers that can cause dependence and push patients to seek more dangerous drugs, including heroin. But opioids are not the only drugs that are overused. Overuse of antibiotics is a growing problem. When the drugs are prescribed for viral conditions or frequent colds or flu, the body can become immune to their effects over time. In response, bacteria can morph into “superbugs” that are aggressive and resistant to medications. It’s a vicious cycle of overuse, spurring resistant bacteria that requires increasing levels of medicines and eventually, some experts believe bacterial infections that are entirely resistant to antibiotics will develop.
In a study, it was found that hospitals and urgent care centers were most likely to dispense antibiotics that were not always necessary, increasing the likelihood of drug-resistant bacterial strains. The study, which is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association alleges that urgent care centers, frequently called “doc in a box” centers and emergency rooms in hospitals prescribed antibiotics unnecessarily in 46% of patients. Any unnecessary prescription is a problem; however, walk-in medical clinics and urgent care centers are becoming increasingly popular, and patients are often seeing doctors that are not familiar with their entire history or use of antibiotics.