Study shows anitbiotics are wrongly prescribed for bronchitis

Bronchitis and antibiotics

Credit: WFAA

Dallas physician Dr. Donna Casey examines bronchitis patient Teri Jackson.




Posted on May 20, 2014 at 5:16 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 20 at 5:24 PM

DALLAS — A nasty cough brought Teri Jackson to the doctor for help.

“I need her to fix me,” Jackson said. "Some type of medicine, some type of antibiotic... some type of something."

"There's a lot of pressure to fix people, and there's a lot of pressure to please people." said Dallas physician Dr. Donna Casey. "They think if they take an antibiotic prescription with them when they leave — even if they're not better for 10 days — they feel like I did something."

Casey said most bronchitis cases are viral, not bacterial, so antibiotics don't work.

Acute bronchitis is a respiratory illness that lasts less than three weeks. In most cases, the body fights off the infection within 10 days. Clinical trials have shown antibiotics are not effective for bronchitis.

The Centers for Disease Control has led efforts to decrease antibiotic prescriptions for the condition.

Despite the research, a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows prescriptions for bronchitis have risen. According to the study, the prescription rate should be near zero.

However, from 1996 to 2010, prescriptions were written in more than 70 percent of cases. Experts say the trend is contributing to a serious health crisis.

"The more antibiotics you write, the more superbugs you create that are resistant to antibiotics," Casey said.

Experts say the key is educating doctors not to cave in to patient pressure. Patients should also be educated about the risks of demanding unnecessary treatment.

Teri Jackson admits she won't like leaving without a prescription, but she'll do it if her doctor insists it's best.

"I do trust her,” Jackson said.