Antibiotic awareness – A GP’s perspective – Dr Cathy Stephenson

Antibiotic awareness – A GP’s perspective – Dr Cathy Stephenson


I’m Cathy Stephenson, I’m a GP working in
Wellington and I’ve been working here for about 20 years working in general practice. And in that role see many people every week,
a lot of whom will be unwell and perhaps coming with the idea that they may need antibiotics
prescribed. Increasing antibiotic resistance would be
one of the most pressing health crisis of our time. And unfortunately as antibiotic resistance
increases our ability to treat relatively simple infections that have been very easily
treatable until now, diminishes. And that means that those infections not only
have the potential to get worse, but actually become deadly. In day-to-day general practice we would see
many people who are unwell, often with symptoms such as a cold or a flu or a cough and there
are situations where those patients may require antibiotics, but the vast vast majority of
those will be people who have a viral infection and we know antibiotics are not effective
against viruses at all. So for a lot of the common day-to-day infections,
antibiotics will actually have no place to play in their treatment at all. However if we think about more serious infections,
such as certain types of pneumonia, meningitis, blood infections then it’s absolutely crucial
that we have antibiotics that are effective in those situations that can prevent really
potentially very serious infections. I fully understand both as a GP but actually
also as a Mother, how hard it is, especially when you’ve got a child that’s unwell, maybe
awake overnight, they’re very distressed, they’re in pain, and you really want to do
everything you can to help them. So often we will get families coming in saying,
“you know I really think my child needs antibiotics, I think they’ve got an ear infection?”. So a big part of our role is to explain to
the family, not only why antibiotics have no role to play in the treatment for their
child, but actually what they can do to make their child feel better. And that will include enabling their child
to get plenty of rest, making sure they’re drinking plenty of fluids and making sure
they’ve got adequate analgesia and that includes medication such as paracetamol and ibuprofen
which are really effective at treating the symptoms of fever and pain for a wide vartiety
of conditions. Ensuring that people know that these infections
have a natural course, you know many of them will last a few days and then they will get
better on their own without the use of antibiotics. And usually when people have that explained,
they’re actually really happy to avoid the need for antibiotics as long as they know
that there are other things that they can do instead. Misuse of antibiotics is one of the reasons
why antibiotic resistance is so bad and that includes not only not using an antibiotic
because it’s been prescribed, so for example taking it for a shorter number of days or
skipping doses, but also sharing antibiotic perscription. So only using half of yours and then passing
it onto someone else who may have similar symptoms to be used at another time. And those are both not only unsafe practices,
but only really contribute to the resistance against antibiotics.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *