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A quick test can minimize unnecessary use of antibiotics


A quick test prevents unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics

When doctors use a quick test to determine if bacteria are causing the disease, antibiotics are less commonly prescribed. This shows the current valuation of AOK Saxony-Anhalt. The test should therefore be used more frequently.

Although the use of antibiotics is clinically necessary in the treatment of many diseases, it is often viewed critically. After all, such drugs often have serious side effects. In addition, they have been warning of an increase in antibiotic resistance for years. A new test can help reduce the number of antibiotics prescribed.

Various antibiotics in the form of tablets and injections
A quick test can be used to determine if the disease is caused by bacteria. This test can help drastically reduce antibiotic prescribing. (Image: Zerbor /

Antibiotics are not effective in viral diseases

As the statement reads AOK Saxony-Anhalt, antibiotics are effective for bacterial but not for diseases caused by viruses. If these drugs are prescribed too often or unnecessarily, bacteria can develop resistance – antibiotics are then ineffective. An estimated 700,000 people worldwide die each year from antibiotic-treated diseases.

A few tropics is enough blood

The so-called CRP rapid test is intended to assist physicians in their decision to therapy and reduce their use of antibiotics. As of March 2018, AOK will cover testing costs for its policyholders. Since then, the rapid test has been used by about 30,000 times the insured AOK Sachsen-Anhalt. The doctor receives only a few blood vessels in a matter of minutes, suggesting whether the infection can be caused by a bacterium. The cold wave in the fourth quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019 was used about 15,000 times.

Doctors should use the quick test faster

As a result, doctors got rid of the possible prescription for antibiotics in more than 40 percent of those tested, that is, in about 12,000 cases. According to the health insurance company, the figures show the benefits of a quick test. “The numbers speak in clear language,” says Kay Nitschke, head of medical care at AOK Saxony-Anhalt. "Therefore, it should be used more often. After all, 30,000 rapid tests with more than 500,000 antibiotic prescriptions over the same period are still relatively small." Therefore, AOK urges all physicians to use the CRP rapid test even more frequently.

When taking it, seek medical advice

Until now, pediatricians have been able to charge a quick test at the expense of AOK. To further reduce the number of prescriptions, from January 2019 ENT doctors in Saxony-Anhalt were able to charge a quick test for AOK costs. Given the results, health insurance is urging them to use it even more. If antibiotics are needed, AOK advises policyholders to always take their doctor's prescription when they take it and not stop treatment too soon because it already feels better.

Faster diagnostics save lives

A second test could also help suppress the spread of drug resistance. As the Leibniz Institute for Photonic Technologies (Leibniz-IPHT) stated in a communication last year, a quick test within three and a half hours can provide information on which available antibiotic is still effective in this particular case. Faster diagnosis enables personalized therapy and saves lives. According to the experts, targeted, economical and responsible use of (broad spectrum and reserve) antibiotics is a prerequisite for combating the spread of resistance. (AD)

Important note:
This article contains general information only and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment alone. It cannot replace a doctor's visit.

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