My September 15th post in response to Penicllin Allergies Overblown introduced the problem of physicians over-prescribing broad-spectrum antibiotics when penicillin would be the more appropriate drug.
One might expect the medical world (patients and clinicians) to be on a mission to overcome the problem of overuse, if only because the practice promotes drug resistance -- a problem that is not theoretical but already here.
The NYTimes article makes clear that we have all the scientific understanding and means to minimize overuse today. Right now.
That current practices are propagating an assured problem is irrefutable. So what's keeping us from doing the right thing?
As I see it, the essence of the problem was captured in the quote from Dr. Abigail Zuger: "we are in a big hurry." The clinician needs to move on to the next patient, and prescribing broad-spectrum antibiotics will take care of this patient's problem effectively in the quickest way possible. The patient needs to get better without the time and expense of more tests.
I won't get into an argument here about the semantics of needs vs wants. From the perspective that future patients -- we -- will suffer terribly if we continue this path to increasing drug-resistent infectious agents, we cannot afford to ignore the consequences of our actions.
So we must address this problem of time. Next: exploring the time-related obstacles to doing the right thing.