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Medicine Science

Most UK GPs Have Prescribed Placebos 240

Techmeology writes "In a survey of UK GPs, 97% said they'd recommended placebo treatments to their patients, with some doctors telling patients that the treatment had helped others without telling them that it was a placebo. While some doctors admitted to using a sugar pill or saline injection, some of the placebos offered had side effects such as antibiotic treatments used as placebos for viral infections."
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Most UK GPs Have Prescribed Placebos

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  • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Friday March 22, 2013 @03:00AM (#43243877)

    antibiotic treatments used as placebos for vial infections

    I'm sorry but a medical professional should flat out know better.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 22, 2013 @03:26AM (#43243975)

    I think it's more down to the public not knowing what antibiotics are used for and demanding them where they are not needed.

  • by bugnuts ( 94678 ) on Friday March 22, 2013 @03:32AM (#43244005) Journal

    While antibiotics won't stop a viral infection, one thing they can help with when infected is to prevent other infections. For instance, a bad viral lung infection might be treated with antibiotics to prevent an opportunistic bacterium like pneumonia from attacking.

    And yeah, pharmacies used to carry placebos. When I worked in a pharmacy long ago, I did indeed dispense them. It was labelled with the chemical name (sucrose, lactose 50mg, etc), but may have been given unlabelled as a unit dose.

  • Re:Not a Placebo (Score:5, Informative)

    by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <richardprice@gm a i l . com> on Friday March 22, 2013 @03:48AM (#43244073)

    The point here is that antibiotics won't do anything for a viral illness - but patients will demand antibiotics for anything and everything until they are blue in the face, many don't accept that the "wonder drug" class of antibiotics won't actually do anything for them.

    My wife is a GP, and we literally just had this conversation :) GPs in the UK get 8 minutes with each patient, they can't afford to spend it arguing with the patient, so they issue antibiotics which have already lost their effectiveness due to prior overuse - we aren't talking about threatening working antibiotics.

  • by Let's All Be Chinese ( 2654985 ) on Friday March 22, 2013 @04:22AM (#43244183)

    The problem with antibiotics, rather, is that you have to finish the entire run lest you'll end up merely training your infection to become resistant. So it's not strictly a problem of prescribing the stuff too often; it's that plus far too many people starting to feel fine then not finishing the cure.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 22, 2013 @04:59AM (#43244311)

    The reason doctors prescribe antibiotics inappropriately in family medicine is almost never due to ignorance. It's because it is what the patient expects and not delivering that is damaging to the doctor/patient relationship. In the long run that damage can have a catastrophic impact on the patient's health.

    Source: I'm a doctor.

  • by hackula ( 2596247 ) on Friday March 22, 2013 @08:50AM (#43245309)
    I used to work in the ICU of a pretty large hospital. It seemed like 90% of the people there were in a coma after getting a mole taken off, not taking the full run of antibiotics, then getting an infection that looked like it was out of a horror movie. Throw in diabetes (and resulting neuropathy and lowered immunity from poor treatment) and most of those people ended up double amputees. People talk about how they could or could not work with the blood in a hospital, but walk into one of those rooms with someone with an infected leg or whatever and you will never complain about blood again. The smell is absolutely overpowering. I always take the full run of antibiotics now, that's for sure!
  • by quantumghost ( 1052586 ) on Friday March 22, 2013 @08:55AM (#43245369) Journal

    antibiotic treatments used as placebos for vial infections

    I'm sorry but a medical professional should flat out know better.

    As a physician, I agree.

    The problem is that we are now subject to an "objective" review [], where the MBA CEO's of hospitals and health care systems have to measure and quantify everything. The problem is this is not a normal customer-seller relationship....this is more like going to the lawyer for advice (Gawd, did I just compare physicians to lawyers????), you are seeking "expert advice" and when it may not be what you want or expect, a rift develops. The physician (rarely) denies something because they are being a jerk, they are (usually) doing it in the patient's best interest. However, with the need to maximize your PG scores, people are acquiescing. Yes, I know this is not a new problem and pre-dates the PG score, but this is a perfect example of "market forces" in medicine, and why people who think medicine is a business like manufacturing cars are dead IS a business, but unlike just about any other out there.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 22, 2013 @08:56AM (#43245377)

    In the UK they are usually extremely reluctant to prescribe anti biotics. Because health system in the UK is completely free, many people go for minor issues and think they know better than the dr, where is they had to pay, they would not go. In these instances, a placebo is probably the perfect solution.

    I have lived in countries where health was provided by insurance and just a completely private system. In these two other methods of providing healthcare, the Drs always, without fail were more likely to prescribe anti biotics and other medicine. I believe this is partly due to the fact that if the patient is not happy with the Dr they take their custom else where. Especially in the totally private system. Everytime the wife went to the Dr.s she came back with a big bag of medicine, completely satisfied with the Dr, feeling she got her monies worth, the Dr was of a high quality. Whereas when she returned from the Dr in the UK for a similar issue and was told to just rest, take a paracetmol, she moaned the Dr was no good, the system was no good

  • by martas ( 1439879 ) on Friday March 22, 2013 @01:06PM (#43248167)
    Dude, have you ever had any contact with a child?

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