In hospitals and other healthcare facilities across the country, antibiotics are often being overly relied on. This is often caused by a misdiagnosis or when the diagnosis is indeterminate. The improper use of antibiotics may have harmful effects. Factors that contribute to the misdiagnosis on the part of practitioners include lack of experience, inadequate knowledge of the side effects, fatigue, a patient’s previous diagnosis. It is important that the problem be addressed and changes made to improve antibiotic use in health care.
Besides increasing the odds of suffering to the patient, incorrect antibiotic use can decrease the effectiveness of the drugs, and raise the cost of health care. A recent study found that 56 percent of U.S. hospital inpatients receive antibiotics. Close to half of these patients received an inappropriate antibiotic therapy. Imagine just how much of the total cost of healthcare this issue accounts for. In many cases if an illness is viral, antibiotics would not be effective in curing or treating the illness. This could lead to a delay in recovery, or the development of a secondary infection. Sometimes a delay in treatment is caused by an incorrect diagnosis. If physicians do not use blood or other laboratory tests the odds of this increase. A group of 500 inpatient cases at a VA Medical Center was studied, and it was found that 95 percent of patients with an incorrect diagnosis, a failure to diagnose or no diagnosis at all received an improper antibiotic therapy. The patients who were correctly diagnosed were still given incorrect antibiotics 38 percent of the time.
Some common illnesses that are often misdiagnosed before or after improper antibiotics are prescribed include: respiratory infections, skin, ear, and urinary tract infections. In the case of misdiagnosed kidney infections, the risk of complications like sepsis or needing dialysis are increased. These are two extremely dangerous risks, as sepsis refers to whole body toxicity so it may be fatal. In the case of dialysis, the need for being attached to a machine to purify the kidneys may be temporary or become permanent.
An accurate diagnosis the first time, and knowing when it is safe to withhold antibiotics, will help hospitals as well as outpatient clinics to better distribute them. Patients whose conditions are improperly diagnosed can suffer greatly if their conditions worsen, leading to additional medical expenses. Those in this position, should consult with an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney today.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Law Offices of Konrad Sherinian for their insight into misdiagnosis related to antibiotic misuse.