Qatar healthcare giant issues warning over antibiotics use

Nearly half of antibiotics prescribed by private clinics in Qatar may be unnecessary, says Hamad Medical Corporation

(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

Qatar-based Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is warning the public about improper antibiotic use, after a study indicated that nearly half of antibiotics prescribed by private clinics in Qatar may be unnecessary.

The study, published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, highlights that the misuse of antibiotics threatens the usefulness of these important drugs.

A team led by Professor Adeel Ajwad Butt, vice chair for faculty affairs, Department of Medicine and director of the Clinical Epidemiology Research Unit at HMC, evaluated over 75,000 health insurance claims related to prescriptions for antibiotics and found that 45 percent were for conditions which typically do not require antibiotics.

“We found that most of the inappropriate claims, around 85 percent, were for acute upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs), which are caused by viruses and do not require antibiotics,” said Butt.

The study, which examined the pattern of antibiotic prescriptions for outpatients in private clinics in Qatar between May 2014 and December 2015, highlights the importance of not prescribing medications unnecessarily, such as in cases where infections are known to be self-limiting, he added.

Professor Abdul-Badi Abou-Samra, chairman of Internal Medicine for HMC, added that the improper use of antibiotics accelerates the emergence of drug-resistant infections, which results in an increased risk of serious illness and even death.

“Antibiotics are one of the most powerful tools we have to fight life-threating infections. They can successfully combat infections that used to be fatal, like bacterial pneumonia. However, the misuse, including the overuse, of antibiotics promotes antibiotic resistance. If we continue to use them inappropriately, we will undermine our ability to treat patients with deadly infections and diseases,” said Abou-Samra.

Professor Butt said that in recent years there has been a global increase in antibiotic resistance, compounded by the limited number of new drugs being discovered.

He said the driving force for this increase is the abuse or overuse of antibiotics, especially for upper respiratory tract infections.

“Antibiotics are an important tool in relieving symptoms of bacterial infections and can help patients recover faster. However, improper use can cause many different types of bacteria to become unresponsive to antibiotics,” added Butt.

The study said patients can do their part to prevent antibiotic resistance by being cautious and only taking antibiotics when absolutely necessary and as directed by a physician.

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