you or one of your children catch a cold, chances are good
that a virus is to blame. In fact, evidence suggests that
60-75% of colds, bronchitis, and other upper respiratory tract
infections are caused by viruses.
Unfortunately, chances are also good that a medical doctor
will prescribe an antibiotic, despite substantial evidence
that antibiotics are ineffective against viral infections.
Doctors know the statistics, but for some reason, they donšt
always share the information with you.
A study published in the research journal Pediatrics examined
pediatrician prescribing behaviors as they related to parental
expectations. Ten physicians and more than 300 parents attending
sick visits for their children were surveyed. Results showed
that when physicians thought a parent wanted an antibiotic
for viral complaints, they prescribed one 62% of the time,
compared with only 7% of the time when they did not think
the parent wanted antibiotics.
The bottom line? Many medical doctors prescribed unnecessary
medication --antibiotics they knew would be ineffective against
viral infections -- because they thought that's what parents
expected. The researchers suggest that steps need to be taken
to change physician perceptions regarding parental expectations.
After all, parents may or may not expect antibiotics, but
what they probably expect (and want) most of all is a doctor
who provides quality, accurate and honest health care each
and every visit.
Mangione-Smith R, McGlynn E, Elliott M, et al. The relationship
between parental expectations and pediatrician antimicrobial
prescribing behavior. Pediatrics, April 1999: Vol.
103, No. 4, pp711-718.