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Flu Season is a Health-Reform Opportunity

Author: UCA Admin/Friday, November 22, 2019/Categories: Industry News

(from RealClear Health)

by Dr. Alan Wright and Dr. Joseph Toscano


Massive health-care reform schemes continue to dominate our political debates.  Yet something simpler and less expensive could go a long way towards improving health: applied medical knowledge.  As flu season looms, the best example of this is antibiotic stewardship—and the stakes could not be higher.

About 35 percent of Americans say they believe that antibiotics treat the flu.  That misunderstanding is one of the reasons patients leave U.S. clinics, doctors’ offices and pharmacies each year with upwards of 260 million courses of antibiotics.  Between 20 and 50 percent of these prescriptions are not necessary, depending on the health-care setting and region.  Antibiotics only help against bacterial infections and so they do nothing—nothing at all—against the flu, the common cold or most bronchitis, which are viral infections.  They also do nothing for the large numbers of coughs, sore throats, ear infections and sinus infections of viral rather than bacterial origin.  

Tens of millions of unnecessary prescriptions add up to billions of dollars of wasted money that the U.S. health-care system can ill afford.  If only money were the extent of the problem, however.  Overprescribing of antibiotics drives the rise of antimicrobial resistance, which is becoming one of society’s most serious health-care challenges.  Crafty bacteria constantly evolve new ways to defeat antibiotics, as they have been doing for billions of years.  It is a fascinating ability if it were not so deadly: a just-out Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report finds that about 2.8 million infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria happen each year in the U.S., causing 35,000 deaths or the equivalent of more than a hundred large-airplane crashes.  

Read the full article HERE.


Dr. Alan Wright is Chief Medical Officer of Roche Diagnostics Corporation and Dr. Joseph Toscano is Clinical Content Advisor of the Urgent Care Association and Chief of Emergency Medicine at Northern California Emergency Medicine Group.



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