Antibiotics before the infection?

Overuse has resulted in antibiotic resistant strains like MRSA running riot in hospitals, threatening patients. Now hospitals are being told to administer them absent infection.

Penicillan from inventorspot.comA study of 6,000 Dutch patients shows that giving antibiotics to all patients in intensive care prevents infections and saves more lives than giving them after the infection turns up. (Picture from Inventorspot.)

While the result makes sense it is bound to prove controversial. Doctors have been fighting for a decade to reduce consumer use of antibiotics. Overuse has resulted in antibiotic resistant strains like MRSA running riot in hospitals, threatening patients.

Now hospitals are being told to administer them absent infection.

The confusion continues, as a supermarket offers generic antibiotics free to people who are filling other prescriptions.

For generations antibiotics have been considered both safe and effective. They can be the first prescription a pediatrician offers, and the first ointment a worried mother tries.

But they don't work for everything. They don't work on colds, which are viral in origin. And the big "no" on over-use has spread worldwide. That's why the search is on for alternatives, like honey  and silver.

It's practically a scientific principle. When something works it is overused, and then doesn't work anymore.

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