Doctors could be penalised for giving out too many antibiotics, says NICE.

The National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence is getting very serious about the issue, and for good reason. If studies are correct, the public’s resistance to antibiotics may grow, meaning bacterial infections will become more dangerous. Imagine, for example, the risks to a patient during surgery?

This issue has featured in headlines periodically over the years, but it’s reaching worrying heights. NICE have suggested that GPs’ prescriptions should be closely monitored and those found to be over-prescribing could be reported to the General Medical Council. Penalties range from an education course in the first instance, to having your medical license revoked in extreme cases.

They claim the aim is not to victimise doctors, but to encourage better discretion when issuing antibiotics. Another suggested approach is to reward doctors who follow the guidelines. Could these methods influence your decision-making as a doctor?

Is the issue with prescribing, or the public’s assumption that antibiotics are always the answer? Should the public be better-educated on this issue?

A wide-reaching, multi-media awareness drive could get the message out there, in the same manner of successful HIV and anti-smoking campaigns. Perhaps with greater public knowledge, antibiotics won’t be over-prescribed – because patients won’t automatically request them.

What do you think? How should the government tackle the issue? Let us know your thoughts.

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