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Doctors who Hand out Fewer Antibiotic Prescriptions are less Popular, Study Says

Update Date: Dec 07, 2015 10:34 AM EST

General practitioners who do not frequently write antibiotic prescriptions for patients tend to be less popular, a British study found.

For this study, the researchers at King's College London examined the medical records from 96 percent of practices within England, which involved a total of 7,800 locations, in relation to the General Practice Patient Survey, which asked for the patients' satisfaction level.

The researchers found that general practitioners who had a 25 percent lower rate of writing antibiotic prescriptions had a reduction of five to six point in their patients' ranking. Since GPs salaries are dependent on their rankings, the experts are worried that some GPs might feel pressure to start prescribing antibiotics to patients even when antibiotics are unnecessary. Over prescribing antibiotics can end up worsening the antibiotic-resistant bacteria dilemma.

"Many patients come in asking for antibiotics when they have viral infections such as colds, coughs, sore throats, or the flu, but antibiotics cannot treat viruses. GPs often feel pressured by patients to prescribe antibiotics and find it difficult to refuse a patient who asks for them," Dr. Mark Ashworth, the lead author of the study, said reported by MedicalXpress.

Dr. Tim Ballard, vice chair of the Royal College of GPs, said, reported by BBC News, "It is frustrating that GP practices that are working hard to reduce inappropriate antibiotics prescribing face falling patient satisfaction ratings. It truly is a case of being damned if we do and damned if we don't. Public perception needs to change - our patients need to understand that when diseases become resistant to antibiotics, it means that antibiotics will cease to work and as it stands, we don't have an alternative."

The team had factored in variables such as demographic and medical practice policies.

The study's findings were published in the British Journal of General Practice.

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