A simple three-minute blood test could tell GPs whether a patient needs antibiotics.
Not only could this help avoid patients suffering nasty side-effects from taking unnecessary drugs, but it could also tackle one of the greatest threats to modern health — antibiotic resistance. The test tells a doctor whether the patient is suffering from a viral or a bacterial infection — that way, they know whether or not to prescribe antibiotics.
Antibiotics are only effective against bacteria — they do not kill viruses. Currently, the type of infection can only be confirmed with a blood test which must be analysed in a lab, a process that can take two to three days.
However, GPs say they often give antibiotics as a fail-safe measure, and that patients pressure them for the pills.
According to Public Health England (formerly the Health Protection Agency), if patients ask their GP for an antibiotic, the vast majority will get one.
Over-prescribing has consequences for both the patient and the population. As well as causing side-effects, over-use can lead to bacteria becoming resistant, making antibiotics less effective at fighting infections. The Government’s chief medical officer has described this as one of the greatest threats to modern health.
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Re-blogged from www.dailymail.co.uk