Doctors ‘Must Always Consider Long Term Effects Of Overprescribing Antibiotics’

Legal Experts React To Suggestions That Doctors Should Be Punished

18.08.2015

Reports of doctors in the UK prescribing a high level of antibiotics to patients with minor conditions could lead to growing concerns regarding the effectiveness of such medication, according to specialist lawyers.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has prepared fresh guidelines on antibiotic prescribing for the NHS in England, which can be adopted by other parts of the UK. The guidelines acknowledge that there is huge pressure from some patients for drugs and suggest that doctors should tell patients when antibiotics are not needed and refuse to write prescriptions.

Their professor Mark Baker has claimed as many as 10 million prescriptions a year in England are “inappropriate” and that regulators need to deal with overprescribing doctors who fail to change their ways.

Currently 42 million prescriptions are given to patients each year by doctors. However, the NHS recently acknowledged that antibiotics are losing their effectiveness at an increasing rate and that antibiotic resistance is one of the most significant threats to patient safety.

Reacting to this news, clinical experts at Irwin Mitchell have urging GPs to ensure antibiotics are always prescribed at an appropriate point during treatment and care.

Expert Opinion
“The number one responsibility for doctors is the health of their patients, both now and in the years to come.

“If this means that, when necessary, antibiotics are not prescribed because of the possibility of reduced efficacy in the future then doctors have a responsibility to make this decision even if the patient disagrees with it.

“The fact that the Department for Health have recently published guidelines on antibiotic resistance suggests that it has becoming a serious issue that needs tackling.

“Achieving the right outcome for the patient is the key priority and it is vital that antibiotics are only used when deemed suitable.”
Sarah Coles, Partner