Antibiotics: why asking doctors to prescribe fewer is futile
An 85-year-old woman with dementia is admitted to hospital with worsening confusion, new urinary incontinence and constipation. These symptoms suggest a urinary tract infection, but the doctor treating her has a dilemma because the symptoms also suggest her dementia may be worsening or she has simple constipation.
Sending a sample to a lab for analysis could confirm bacteria in the urine, but getting a result takes days, so the doctor decides to play it safe and prescribe antibiotics.
Scenes like that are repeated every day in hospitals around the world, and they are