Over-The-Counter Antibiotics: a Satirical Commentary

I have a proposal to make: over-the-counter antibiotics. 

(insert tongue-in-cheek here)

Will this help us deal with the falsely popular notion that antibiotics are a cure-all?

I don’t know, but here’s something I do.

My Experience in Saying No

I’ve had patients storm out because I’ve said no, and I take the chance of a negative review right then and there when that happens. Not to mention a lawsuit, should some complication arise, and a lawyer take on the case of ‘why-weren’t-antibiotics-prescribed.’ Should we basically cater to patient requests? We take a risk when we say no, in this increasingly customer-service based field, so why not just have them plucked right off the shelf, and available over-the-counter?

We’ve all seen the relevant cartoon. It’s posted on my personal Facebook page, sent by a good friend just the other day. A mug, held by the hand of a doctor, states, “Don’t confuse my medical degree with your Google search.”


If only this was just a joke.

I have had several interactions in the office where a patient, after saying hello and then confronted by the typical office-conversation-starter of, “Why are you here today?” answers with, “I’m here to get a Z-pak for my bronchitis.”

Basically, the patient has made an appointment to let me know what he’s got.

And let’s face it, my patient wants one thing, and one thing only, an antibiotic prescription. I do get it on one hand, it’s 2016 and there’s a world wide internet with sites like Wikipedia and WebMD, where you can look up any symptom and essentially choose what you have from that list.

I also get that doctors over the years have been prescribing z-paks like band-aids, for every cough, sore throat, or airway issue that walks through that door (relax, fellow docs, I said SOME. I’m not talking about YOU). Combine the two and we’re nurturing a generation of self-diagnosing, misinformed alarmists.

And now, we are sadly reaching a crisis in antibiotic over-prescription as the threat of superbugs in this world grows and resistance develops in response to overuse.

It’s never been more important for health care professionals, like you and I, to put an end to common misuse and misconceptions of those who simply refuse to understand. I know it’s often easier to just cave, and throw those antibiotics at the patient, and it probably also saves us the time and aggravation. Not to mention a decrease in liability if, heaven forbid, you were to actually miss.

Why Not Prescribe An Antibiotic To Take Just In Case, You Ask

One of the reasons not to is that some can change our gut flora and wipe out necessary bacteria that live there, which normally help with digestion. This in turn causes abdominal discomfort, nausea, and loose stools. Then there’s the more serious effects like heart rhythm disturbances and neurological phenomenon. Just a week ago, the FDA came out with heavier warnings regarding a class of drugs readily prescribed for common ailments such as urinary tract infections and respiratory tract infections, citing serious adverse reactions were more frequent than previously believed.

So to the patient who comes in having already diagnosed himself, or having decided which medicine the doctor should prescribe, nothing is more irritating than a doctor who disagrees. Usually, their mind is already made up and they know just what they want.

My proposal stands. Why not just have them there, behind the counter, ready for pick up at the local pharmacy? Or even ordered delivery?

Let’s face it, we’ll all save the trouble.

Less missed work, less wait time, less aggravation. And best of all, the doctor gets top marks on his next social media mention. Read Two Sides to Every Story, Unless it’s on Facebook. You’ll understand what I mean.


"University of Google Medical School" is typed above an empty search box


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