Prophylactic Antivirals

I was at lunch with some coworkers discussing the rash of flu cases popping up in our small town. Surprisingly, or perhaps not, these people have all had the flu vaccine so contracting the flu has been worrisome for them. In most cases, upon seeking medical assistance, they have been given an antiviral medication (Tamiflu). I’m distressed by the readiness of doctors to prescribe this drug. Before the antiviral was available, what did they always say. Get plenty of rest, drink lots of liquids, take Tylenol for aches and pains and it will run it’s course in 10-14 days. This may not be what people want to hear when they go to the doctor but seriously it will work. Unless the patient is in a high risk category, the antiviral isn’t recommended by the CDC. I just read this last night. So why are doctors giving the prescription? I personally think it’s because we are putting way too much emphasis on “customer service” and not enough on sound medical advice. If I can go to my doctor and tell her what I want and she gives it to me, no questions asked, I’m not really getting her expertise. She’s not doing me any favors by giving me prescriptions without making sure I really need them. I know some patients expect the doctors to have a good bedside manner (which is code for do exactly what I tell them) and I’ve met patients who don’t feel the visit has been worthwhile unless they get a prescription. Put those patients together with a reimbursement system that dispenses payment based on patient satisfaction and you get doctors who will hand out prescriptions that aren’t needed.

Back to the flu, I’m even more distressed by hearing that doctors are giving this out prophylactically. A husband has the flu and they give the antiviral to him and his wife, even though she has no symptoms. The flu virus can mutate, people! By giving antivirals willy-nilly, we are going to create a super flu that nothing will kill. Then, my friends, we are   in for some serious trouble. This isn’t new information. Everyone knows that the prevalence of antibiotics is responsible for creating the “superbugs” like VRE (Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus) or MRSA (Methecillan Resistant Stapholococcus Aureus). The same is true of viruses. Check out the CDC website for more on this. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/antivirals/antiviral-drug-resistance.htm. Thankfully Tamiflu is still a drug that will kill the current flu strain. But, if doctors continue to give unnecessary prescriptions, it’s going to bite all of us in the butt.

At least that’s this nurse’s opinion!

Let me know what you think!

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The Writing Waters Blog
    Jan 04, 2013 @ 18:43:55

    I think I agree with you. I avoid the doctor’s office whenever possible. I also think legal drugs are too prevalent and can harm. I mean, a television commercial is ten seconds of why something is good and twenty seconds of side effects worse than the problem.

    Reply

    • 1daughter
      Jan 05, 2013 @ 13:50:24

      Too true. I’ve been leaning away from prescription drugs for awhile now, despite a 20 year career in Nursing. I’d really like to see more clinicians advocating diet and exercise-related treatments. But that would mean patients taking responsibility for their own health and I don’t think the majority are ready for that. As you can tell, it’s a sore subject for me. Thanks for stopping by and sharing. Stay well! 🙂

      Reply

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