Doctors facing dilemma of making patients happy or over-prescribing antibiotics.
A new study looking at the satisfaction of patients with their doctors has found that physicians who are trying to cut back on the over-use of antibiotics are scoring a lower satisfaction rate with their patients, according to an article on bbc.com.
This is coming on the heels of a previous study indicating that up to half of all prescriptions for antibiotics could be inappropriate, particularly antibiotics given to patients with colds, sore throats and the flu, which cannot be treated with antibiotics.
In addition, research is mounting that the over-use of antibiotics is leading to bacteria and infections building a resistance to the drugs and reducing their effectiveness.
The new study, conducted by researchers at King’s College in London, compared the rates of prescriptions of over 95 percent of all general practitioner surgeries in England, and found that the scores rose when the patients felt they had been listened to or examined carefully.
However, the study also found that doctors that prescribed as much as 25 percent fewer antibiotics saw a reduction in patient satisfaction scores.
The General Practice Patient Survey, a factor in the rate of pay for the doctors, is a survey in which patients are invited to comment on the quality of their medical visits, and encompasses some three million adults each year in England.
Lead study author, Dr. Mark Ashworth, said GP’s feel pressured by patients to provide antibiotics and find it difficult sometimes to refuse those who specifically ask for the drugs, adding that GPs who are being frugal in their prescribing of antibiotics may need support to help them maintain their patient’s satisfaction.
The authors say that their research indicates the negativity from not prescribing antibiotics to a patient could possibly be offset by making the patients feel their examination had been done very carefully and the doctor had done a good job of listening to the patient’s complaint or description of their ailment.
Dr. Tim Ballard, vice chair of the Royal College of GPs, expressed concerns about the findings, saying the doctors are working to reduce the over-use of antibiotics and the public perception needs to change to understand that if antibiotics stop working due to infections becoming resistant to the treatment, there is no other alternative.
The findings of the study were published in the British Journal of General Practice.