Antibiotics Not Warranted For Acute Bronchitis

Surveys indicate that 50 to 70 per cent of all patients reporting to their physician's office with acute bronchitis walk away with a prescription for antibiotics. This despite the fact that several major randomized, double-blind studies have clearly shown that antibiotics are of little or no value in the treatment of uncomplicated, acute bronchitis. Now two medical doctors at the San Francisco General Hospital warn that the indiscriminate use of antibiotics hastens the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria and also carries the risk of serious adverse side effects for the patients. Drs Sande and Gonzales conclude that, in their opinion, there is never any justification for prescribing antibiotics in cases of acute bronchitis. They believe both patients and physicians must be educated to understand that the use of antibiotics to "treat" acute bronchitis does not alter the course of the disease, but may have adverse side effects.

The Lancet, March 1995

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By Hans R. Larsen

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