For the best part of a century, antibiotics have been a mainstream of the world’s treatment and prevention of bacterial infection. At some point in our lives, we have all had some form of antibiotic prescribed by a medical professional to fight an illness – with the script usually solving our ailment within a few weeks.
However, when taken unnecessarily or incorrectly, antibiotics are a serious threat to public health and can encourage antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to the Australian Medical Association (AMA). As such, it is important to highlight the cause of Antibiotic Awareness Week, which runs from November 16 to 22.
The event is endorsed by both the World Health Organisation and NPS MedicineWise and is aimed at improving patient behaviour around antibiotics and how medical professionals prescribe this form of medicine.
Professor Brian Owler, AMA president, explained that antibiotics prevent widespread infections from developing, but must be used responsibly.
“The AMA supports greater awareness and education for doctors and patients to ensure that antibiotics can continue effectively performing their key role in treating and preventing infections, and keeping Australians healthy,” he said.
Based on statistics issued by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, there were more than 209 million prescriptions filled in Australia in the 12 months to June 2014. This was an increase of 6.3 per cent over the previous year.
Patient and doctor responsibility
From a patient perspective, the guidelines surrounding antibiotics are simple – if prescribed, take the whole course as directed. However, doctors and other medical professionals must adhere to much stricter conditions surrounding antibiotics.
According to the AMA, every prescription must be at the correct dose and duration. It should also meet the recommendations of other pathologists and national clinical guidelines.
If these policies aren’t followed, the antibiotics could pose a serious medical risk to Australians and potentially promote antimicrobial resistance.
Can I claim medical negligence?
It is important to remember that taking the wrong antibiotic or incorrect dose of a drug can have serious medical ramifications. While you can trust most medical professionals to provide the right dosage and antibiotic, mistakes can occur and this can have a serious impact on your health.
Patients that develop further complications due to taking incorrect antibiotics from their doctor could be eligible for medical negligence compensation and are urged to contact a lawyer who can help them with their claim.
As medical negligence compensation is a complex situation, it is best to take your claim directly to a lawyer.