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Medical Monday: TAMC Launches New Initiative to Reduce Over-Prescribing

| October 21, 2013

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Your nose is stuffy and runny, your face hurts and you have a cough. You may have a sinus infection. Your first thought might be to head to the doctors office for some antibiotics, but Dr. David Weed, the Medical Director of the Medical Group  at the Aroostook Medical Center says that really shouldn’t be the first treatment option.

He says “A lot of times, we’re using antibiotics when we really shouldn’t be. These patients mostly have viral infections and they may go to their provider or to the emergency room with the expectation they’ll get an antibiotic when really they don’t need one. We’ve talked about how we’re going to work to try to educate and enlighten the patients to not always expect an antibiotic.”

This new enlightenment is part of a new initiative to not only save money, but also improve patient care called “choosing wisely”. An effort to raise awareness about the over-prescribing of antibiotics for sinus infections. Dr. Weed says this is important for several different reasons.  “The first is cost. The second is side effects. Any medication has potential side effects. And third is, we are seeing the emergence of resistant bacteria to the antibiotics because of overuse of them.”  And he says this is just the start, “the same is going to come about for many, many different areas of medicine. Whether it be x-rays for back pain or certain types of cardiac workups. That the reflex network of what we do is no longer cost effective. This is just our first step here at TAMC to try and work down that road.”

So, Dr. Weed says be patient and don’t always expect an antibiotic every time you’re sick. He also says do your own research before you go see your doctor. Opening up the lines of communication between doctor and patient is key in making this new initiative a success. And he adds, don’t be afraid to voice your concerns to your physician. They are there to work with you to help you feel better.  For more information you can visit www.choosingwisely.org.

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