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“Must Prescribe Antibiotic, Must Prescribe Antibiotic … “

Posted Oct 31 2012 12:00am

Jim Purdy, who often comments here, told me the following story:

Recently, a health professional ordered two tests for infectious bacteria in a small foot wound (I think the tests were for gram negative or gram positive bacteria, or maybe aerobic and anaerobic). Even before the bacterial tests came back, she wanted me to start on antibiotics. Instead I waited. The first results showed a very low level of a harmless bacteria, so I was glad I hadn’t started antibiotics.

When I saw her again, a few weeks later, I asked about the second set of bacterial tests. She claimed that there had only been one test, but I insisted she check again. She left, and came back a few minutes later and said that she had found the second results, and there had been no bacteria.

Surely the health professional knew that antibiotics are overprescribed, that antibiotic resistant bacteria have become a serious problem, that antibiotics are dangerous, and yet she not only failed give the wound a chance to heal on its own, she failed to allow test results to guide what she did. No wonder she forgot about the second test.

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