Some doctors prescribe antibiotics much more often than others
Originally published on Global News
Antibiotic resistance, where infection-causing bacteria no longer respond to common drugs meant to kill them, is a huge and emerging issue in public health.
And one of the biggest contributors to the problem is doctors.
“The single biggest driver of that resistance is the amount of antibiotics that we use,” said Dr. Kevin Schwartz, a physician who works in antimicrobial stewardship and infection prevention and control with Public Health Ontario.
According to data from the Public Health Agency of Canada, most antibiotics in Canada are used in the community, not the hospital, meaning they’re being prescribed by ordinary physicians or dentists. Family physicians account for 65 per cent of prescriptions.
Not everyone prescribes at the same rate either. On average, there are about 625 antibiotic prescriptions per 1,000 inhabitants in Canada. In B.C., there are 546.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the highest-prescribing province, there were 956 prescriptions for every 1,000 people.
The differences go even further: according to preliminary research from Public Health Ontario, the southwestern Ontario health region of Erie-St-Clair has an antibiotic rate one-and-a-half times higher than the lowest health region. Mississauga has the second-highest prescribing rate.
Antibiotic prescribing matters for our ability to treat infections in the future, as our current slate of antibiotic drugs will gradually become less and less effective.
Not only that, said Schwartz, but many of the biggest advances in modern medicine: things like cancer care, organ transplants and care of premature babies, are only possible because of antibiotics.