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Why this love for antibiotics in India?

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e6209 (Published 2 October 2012)
Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e6209

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  1. Pankaj Vohra, senior consultant, pediatrics/pediatric gastroenterology, Max Healthcare, New Delhi, India
  1. pankajvohramd{at}yahoo.com

Patient’s mother: “Doctor, can you please prescribe an antibiotic. My 4 year old child has been suffering from diarrhoea for the past three days.”

Doctor: “Madam, there’s no need for an antibiotic. This is a viral infection, which is self limiting. Antibiotics may, in fact, make the child worse.”

Mother: “But doctor, I have only come to you to get antibiotics. I am already doing the rest of the treatment. What is the point in my spending two hours getting the child here, taking half a day’s leave from the office, and paying your fee, without getting an antibiotic? I could have ordered norfloxacin from the chemist and spent less money and less time.”

Doctor: “Madam, your time and money have been well spent. You are paying to protect your child from antibiotics—and for the reassurance that the illness will pass in a week.”

Mother: “A week? No, doctor, that’s too much. The child has important examinations at school. I should not have listened to you in the first place and started norfloxacin on day one. Please refund my money, and I will get the drug from the chemist. I thought you were a good doctor but I won’t come to you again.”

An estimated half of prescriptions for antibiotics …

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