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The study found that a 25 per cent reduction in antibiotic prescription would be expected to lead to a 0.5-1 per cent drop in patient satisfaction scores, which would amount to a drop of three to six percentile points in national rankings.
This research comes amid fears of growing antibiotic resistance that could leave the class of drug ineffective in the near future. In light of this, many GP practices have been working hard to reduce the prescription of antibiotics when they are not essential.
The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence published new guidance in August 2015 that urged health professionals to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions, claiming that one in four antibiotic prescriptions dispensed outside of hospitals were probably unnecessary.
The research from King’s College London could be a cause for concern, as lower patient satisfactions scores could lead GPs to feel pressured to prescribe more antibiotics.
Tim Ballard, vice-chair of the Royal College of GPs, said it was concerning that patients associate antibiotics with a successful visit to their GP, stating that public perceptions need to change in order to curb antibiotic resistance.
He said: “It’s concerning that patients associate a prescription for antibiotics with a satisfactory visit to their GP, particularly as we know that in many cases antibiotics are not appropriate forms of treatment and could actually do more harm than good, so it may be better not to prescribe.
“We all have a responsibility to curb this trend, and we need to work together to make the public realise that prescribing antibiotics is not always the answer to treating minor, self-limiting illness.
“Family doctors will prescribe antibiotics where the evidence suggests that they are likely to help people get better more quickly, but patients need to know that if we do not prescribe antibiotics, we are not being mean – we are acting in the best interests of their health.”
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