Dangerous to stop antibiotics course too soon

Antibiotic resistance and the rise of superbugs is a real phenomenon that is gaining a foothold in the Western world in particular.

Hence, the report on the research conducted by a team of British disease experts is interesting (Finish your antibiotics course? Maybe not, experts say; ST Online, July 27).

Unfortunately, the way the research has been presented may potentially misinform patients and cause them to mistrust healthcare professionals.

Not completing the course of antibiotics is not the authors' original conclusion.

Their main point was on antibiotic overuse and the wrong use of antibiotics, such as using them to treat a viral infection.

In their paper, they had concluded that "public education about antibiotics should highlight the fact that antibiotic resistance is primarily the result of antibiotic overuse and is not prevented by completing a course".

It is a dangerous health myth that patients can stop taking antibiotics early.

There is a difference between "feeling better" and actually being "clinically better".

I doubt this piece of research will influence guidelines on clinical antibiotic use, as the development of such guidelines often involves a very robust evidence base.

Until a change at that level is effected, there should be no grey area in the debate over finishing a course of antibiotics.

Sarah Chan Mun Ling (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2017, with the headline 'Dangerous to stop antibiotics course too soon'. Print Edition | Subscribe