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05th November 2014

Prescription for Disaster!

Prescription for DisasterAbout twenty years ago, I called the weekend duty GP because I was worried about our young son who had a sore throat and a temperature. The doctor turned up an hour later and just handed me a prescription for Penicillin on the door step, without even coming in. Even then I was a bit uncomfortable that he hadn’t examined his patient, or even checked for allergies. He had taken the easiest action. Now we should know different, or do we?

Prof John Watson, deputy chief medical officer at the Department of Health, said: "Antimicrobial resistance is one of the biggest threats to health security facing the world today and everybody must take action." Public Health England found a 6 per cent increase in prescriptions between 2010 and 2013 and warned that up to half may be inappropriate. In the same period, there was also a 12 per cent increase in the number of resistant E.coli infections in the blood.

What’s the worst that can happen?

Prescriptions for antibiotics are at an all-time high in most developed countries, and the associated development of antimicrobial resistance has health officials around the globe worried. Antibiotics have been one of the greatest breakthroughs in medicine and have saved millions of lives. But there is growing concern that overuse is making them less effective as bacteria develop resistance. Prime Minister David Cameron has warned the world will be "cast back into the dark ages of medicine" unless action is taken.

There is now a well-defined link between areas of high prescribing and resistant bacteria. Experts said we were "squandering an unbelievably precious resource". Amidst growing concern that overuse is making them less effective, as bacteria develop resistance, we are prescribing more and more.

What part can dentists play?

According to the BDA, dentistry currently accounts for 9 per cent of antimicrobial prescriptions in Britain. A summit organised by the British Dental Association (BDA) in London in November is bringing together regulators and antimicrobial specialists to discuss how dental professionals in the UK can combat the rising threat.

The BDA says: “The meeting, which will tie in with European Antibiotic Awareness Day on 18 November, aims to explore the current use of antimicrobials in dentistry. There is a plan to compile a consensus report from the discussions that will be presented at the organisation’s next annual congress in Manchester in 2015. Educational materials and events to guide dental practitioners on reducing the use of antibiotics will follow.”

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

John Shapter

Dental Specialist

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