Published on

Individuals are obtaining antibiotics that were not prescribed for them from a variety of sources—including other countries, the internet, friends, relatives, or from previous prescriptions—and using them to self-treat their cold and flu symptoms, according to a press release from the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Convenience, past treatment experiences, and the hassle of navigating the healthcare system are among the reasons patients said they take the “nonprescription” antibiotics. The study was presented by the Baylor College of Medicine Department of Family and Community Medicine at the IDWeek 2023 meeting in Boston. Individuals interviewed for the study said they took antibiotics that were not prescribed for them primarily because they wanted symptom relief. Most trust antibiotics and felt over-the-counter medications weren’t working. For many, the easier path was to ask a friend or family member for leftover antibiotics or order antibiotics from other countries. The study included 86 patients from 6 public primary care clinics and two emergency departments in Houston, Texas. 

Add this to your list: Urgent care clinicians rarely have the time to educate patients adequately on appropriate use of antibiotics. However, if this study is any indication of patient behavior, it might be worth mentioning that using nonprescription antibiotics can cause more harm than good.

Sniffling Leads to Sneaking a Dose of Leftover Antibiotics