New testing shows if antibiotic is needed
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In Germany, antibiotics are too often prescribed. This should change the quick test now. The technique should also protect doctors from the pressure of patients who claim to be medicine.
JEvery year, doctors in Hamburg only prescribe about 500,000 antibiotics. It is not always necessary: In every third case, the drug is inappropriate for a particular disease. This can have serious long-term consequences for patients: the more antibiotics a patient takes, the greater the risk of resistance to available medicines.
Hamburg doctors and health insurance want to curb it with a national first-model project. With a new rapid blood test, they want to reduce the number of incorrectly prescribed antibiotics. Doctors can determine in minutes whether there is a viral or bacterial disease. The test paid for by most health insurance companies is now available to about 1,500 homes, ENTs and pediatricians.
By now, the blood sample had to be examined in the laboratory. The result was only two days later – it was impractical and therefore almost never used. With a new test, doctors can decide immediately after an examination whether an antibiotic is useful or not. Because: Antibiotics only help with bacterial diseases but not colds caused by viruses, bronchitis or flu.
But many patients still believe that, as Walter Plassmann, CEO of Kassenhospital Hamburg (KVH) says, "We hear over and over again that patients are being pressured to be prescribed antibiotics. With the test, you can get possible worries."
1500 doctors can join
The medical profession has been trying for years to discover the proper prescription of antibiotics. With its own campaign on the subject, KVH turned to doctors and patients. This has already been successful: since 2012, the number of prescribed antibiotics has been steadily declining, especially pediatricians prescribing significantly less. "We now want to reinforce that trend," Plassmann said Wednesday. How many of the 1,500 doctors offer a quick test is still open. Doctors must first get a device for € 1,000 and get trained. "Hamburg is always a little hesitant to implement new capabilities," Plassmann said. "It will certainly take some time until this time it is expanded."
The test acts like a blood glucose test and shows whether there is a bacterial inflammatory level in the body. In severe bacterial infections there is an increase in the so-called C-reactive protein, which is why we are talking about the CRP rapid test. "You trust a lot with doctors, but the value you see in black and white is even more credible to many," said Dirk Heinrich, president of the ENT Physicians Association. Sam is a registered ENT physician in Hamburg-Horn. Many of his patients, he said, came from countries where antibiotics were freely available on the weekly market. Discussions are inevitable here.
In Germany, 700 tons of antibiotics are eaten every year
It’s not just about the well-being of the individual. In Germany, 700 tonnes of antibiotics are consumed annually – not including veterinary medicine. Meanwhile, it has an impact on the ecosystem: many waters are contaminated with antibiotics. Because part of the active substance is excreted in humans and animals or unused pills are dumped in the toilet, antibiotic residues can be detected in most rivers. "We have been contributing to improving this for years," Plassmann said. "But we also urge other social groups to do so with equal consequences – for example, in the field of factory farming."
Most health insurance companies – including AOK Rheinland / Hamburg, BKK, DAK Health and IKK – support the process. Patients whose health insurance companies are not currently involved in the project may also use the test. But you have to pay 4.90 euros on your own. Dirk Janssen, BKK-Landesverband Nordwest's deputy chairman, spoke of a "breakthrough" with regard to the new expedited procedure: "Prescribing antibiotics was the child of health insurance companies. 80 to 90 percent of respiratory infections – including colds or flu – were caused by viruses. Antibiotics they don't help here. Yet their usage is increasing, especially in the winter months. "
The model project is scientifically supported by Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel. If a quick test is proven, the process could soon be implemented nationwide.