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Community Problem Report: Doctors Over-Prescribing Medication

The University of Texas at El Paso

RWS 1301

Crystal Gonzalez


Medication is used as a substance to heal a disease or prevent pain. Doctors are now over-

prescribing medication with full knowledge of what the consequences are, but are still doing it

anyways. Over-prescribing has caused an epidemic that has already been a great problem to this

country become worse. Drug usage has increased over the years because gaining possession of

opioids have now gotten easier thanks to over-prescription. Bacteria is now becoming more

resistant to antibiotics because doctors are giving their patients high dosages of antibiotics for the

simplest sickness such as a sore throat and patients are now developing health problems. People

are not aware that one of the things that can help cure can be one of the things that causes the most

harm if not used properly.

Keywords: over-prescribing, drug usage, bacteria, health problems


Doctors are supposed to be someone you trust, but how are you supposed to trust someone

who isnt putting your health as a main priority? Doctors are now over-prescribing medication

such as opioids and antibiotics with clear knowledge of the long-term effects. Patients are being

prescribed medication without full understanding of what that medication can do. This is a problem

that is not talked about frequently because there are greater problems to be concerned about, but

this is something that everyone should be concerned and informed about to prevent a greater

conflict. The first way it can create a bigger problem is the increase in use of opioids because of

over-prescription. The second way is an increase in resistance rate in bacteria and lastly,

unnecessary health problems that could eventually be prevented. It is clear that medication can

sometimes cause more harm than good if people are not well informed on what these medicines

can really do.

Over-Prescription of Opioids

In a survey recently conducted, approximately 95 million Americans were prescribed

Figure 1
opioids in 2015 (Thompson, 2017). This shows a great concern

because that is an awful lot of opioids being prescribed in just one

year. Most of these drugs are being misused and the patients are

taking advantage of doctors over prescribing drugs. Opioids are

highly addicted drugs that can ease pain, but can also ruin your life

if not taken appropriately. About 1.9 million of Americans have

reported been addicted to opioids thanks to over-prescribing

(Thompson, 2017). Many of the patients who are being prescribed


unnecessary drugs are passing them on to relatives or selling them to make a profit. This is making

the ability to gain possession of a drug a lot easier. We have not made any progress when it comes

to drug addictions, in fact, the number of overdosed deaths has quadrupled since 1999 (Thompson,

2017) and as seen in figure 1.

Surgeons are being taught to give their surgical patients up to 90 opioid tablets upon

discharge (Makary, 2017). It has been proven that 1 single tablet of Ibuprofen is sufficient. The

medical community has advised their members to over-prescribe medication to stop late night

phone calls from patients asking for more. Many doctors usually hold off on opioids for serious

measures like, terminal cancer, burns and surgeries, but are now being distributive to minor things

like headaches etc. One ironic thing is that over-the-counter pills are not paid by the insurance, but

the opioids are completely covered. This situation should be changed so that the over-prescription

of drugs will decrease.

Over-Prescription of Antibiotics
Other than over-prescribing opioids, doctors are now over-prescribing antibiotics.

Figure 2 Although this isnt as serious as drugs, antibiotics are still a serious matter and here is

why. Bacteria is now becoming more resistant than its

ever been before. According to U.S health officials,

almost all major bacterial infections are not responding

to treatment because of this event (France-Presse,

2013). People are going into the doctors office for a

simple sore throat and coming out with a prescription

with either penicillin or amoxicillin. For example, the

common sore throat is the Streptococcus infection,


which can be contagious, and while the people infected are taking medication like penicillin the

bacteria is becoming more resistant to the treatment because it is being exposed to often. As seen

on figure 2, about 10% of adults are prescribed correctly for a Strep infection and 40 million

antibiotic prescriptions were unnecessary validating that doctors are not correctly doing their job

when it comes to prescribing medication to their patients.

Another way on why bacteria is becoming more resistant is because farmers are injecting

animals with antibiotics. Enrofloxacin is an antibiotic that is used to treat respiratory infections in

chickens and turkey, but the problem is that campylobacter (a common cause for food poisoning)

is becoming more immune to the medication that treats because of over exposure (Prior, 2005).

Health Problems Due to Over-Prescribing

Health problems have occurred because of this problem. Children are experiencing fatal

diarrhea because doctors are not properly giving out the medication. A bacteria called C. Difficile

is found in the gut but it can be very dangerous to children and is developed by unnecessary

antibiotics. Roughly 250,000 people are hospitalized and 14,000 children and adults have died

because of this bacteria (Krans, 2014). Aggressive antibiotics have the capability of messing with

your entire gut flora and it can take a long time of taking probiotics and healing for it to go back

to normal because what antibiotics do is attack the bad bacteria as well as the good bacteria in your

stomach. Your liver is another organ that can get damaged by the over exposure of antibiotics. It

can cause liver inflammation and can potentially intoxicate your liver if you take antibiotics


Conclusion and Recommendations

In conclusion, doctors are over-prescribing opioids and antibiotics which are leading to an

increase in drug usage and the resistance in bacteria causing health problems. Although doctors

have the greater knowledge when it comes to the human body, they should be more careful and

make the patients health a main priority. Doctors from all over the world should get the proper

training to recognize drug abuse and implement that in their career to help decrease the rates. As

far as antibiotics goes, natural remedies should be tried instead to prevent harm to the human body

and resistance to bacteria.


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