Despite what people may think much of medicine is based on myth. Particularly when it comes to patient care and medication use. One big myth shattered this week is that we don’t have to finish the course of antibiotics. In fac,t the evidence is the opposite and finishing a course of antibiotics may lead to increased bacterial resistance. The one thing it was supposed to stop. However, the over prescription and overuse of antibiotics does contribute to major health problems, especially with all the information coming out on the importance of the gut microbiome and how antibiotics can be so devastating to your microbiome.
Avoiding overuse requires healthcare professionals and the public to be well informed about antibiotic treatment. Public communication about antibiotics often emphasises that patients who fail to complete prescribed antibiotic courses put themselves and others at risk of antibiotic resistance. However, the idea that stopping antibiotic treatment early encourages antibiotic resistance is not supported by evidence, while taking antibiotics for longer than necessary increases the risk of resistance. Without explicitly contradicting previous advice, current public information materials from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Public Health England have replaced “complete the course” with messages advocating taking antibiotics “exactly as prescribed.”
With little evidence that failing to complete a prescribed antibiotic course contributes to antibiotic resistance, it’s time for policy makers, educators, and doctors to drop this message.