Appropriate use of antibiotics for common infections in an era of increasing resistance

Jeffrey P. Louie, Louis M. Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


In many respects, antibiotics have changed medicine forever. Countless lives have been enhanced and saved with antibiotic use. Unfortunately, the medical community has opened Pandora's box through the casual distribution of outpatient antibiotics. Society will indeed suffer, as well as the medical profession, if antibiotics are not used judiciously. To date, the rate of penicillin resistance has steadily risen in North America and in many other areas of the world. Much of the increase in resistance has been caused by the distribution of antibiotics for viral infections (e.g., bronchitis, colds, or purulent nasal discharge) as well as nonstreptococcal throat infections. Parental pressure for physicians to prescribe antibiotics also has contributed to the rise in antibiotic resistance. The authors have discussed many common pediatric ED infections and have illustrated the key points for making the diagnosis of each. In addition, the authors also recommend the appropriate choice of antibiotics for each disease process, with an emphasis on narrow-spectrum, firstline antimicrobials. Physicians, as the "holders of the prescription pad," should be aware of the problems with increasing bacterial resistance especially ED practitioners who work on the front line. In addition, families and patients should be educated about the harm of inappropriate antibiotic use. The AAP publishes pamphlets for parents that discuss these issues. It is believed, as was seen in Finland and Japan, that judicious use of antibiotics leads to a decrease in resistant bacteria and prolong antibiotic usefulness. This is an issue of great importance to the long-term health of patients. What Benjamin Rush stated in 1789 is true today: "Do not condemn, or oppose, unnecessarily, the simple, prescriptions of your patients. Yield to them in matters of little consequence but maintain an inflexible authority over matters that are essential to life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-91
Number of pages23
JournalEmergency Medicine Clinics of North America
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


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