Antibiotics may be overprescribed

August 13, 2008 2:23:30 PM PDT
Antibiotics are among the most widely prescribed drugs in the United States. But some experts are saying doctors are unnecessarily prescribing them, and in turn causing harm to a patient. A new study by the Centers for Disease Control says bad reactions to antibiotics are sending people to emergency rooms more than 140,000 times a year.

Most of the emergency room visits in the study were caused by an allergic reaction to antibiotics, ranging from a rash to a more serious reaction known as anaphylaxis.

The vast majority of patients were taking drugs as directed, meaning pills carry a risk that can only be avoided by reducing their use.

Doctors say patients have come to expect antibiotics prescriptions for simple ailments drugs won't treat, including most sore throats, coughs and children's ear infections.

The study suggests that if doctors reduce the number of antibiotic prescriptions by even a small percentage, it could significantly reduce the number of emergency room visits