Antibiotics have been oversubscribed for years and we are facing a situation where people could become immune to their effects.  Therefore something had to change.  And I have noticed a change.  At my doctors surgery it is incredibly rare to be prescribed antibiotics.  Everything is ‘viral’.  Whilst I don’t disagree that there needs to be changes, I do fear that we are being too extreme.  And actually children are being denied antibiotics when they are genuinely needed.

My opinion comes from my own personal experience.  I’m not someone who takes my kids to the doctors at the hint of a sniffle.  I mean who wants to sit in a doctors waiting room for an hour with ill people?  And try to keep the kids entertained.  No thanks! 

But I do believe in a parents instinct.  Whilst we may not be medical experts we know our children better than anyone.

Our doctors surgery has been victim to the many cuts.  Forcing a merger between two surgeries that now make appointments gold dust, and have seen the regular doctors leave the practice.  Where as we used to see the same doctor who knew us and our history, we now never see the same face twice.

Last year my youngest was really poorly.  He had been running a fever for four days, had no energy for playing and wasn’t eating.  I made an appointment for him.  We dropped my eldest at school.  My youngest was in the buggy (not normal for him at all) and everyone commented on how poorly he looked.  In the waiting room he sat on my lap and cried.  He was in pain and really not himself.  I described his symptoms, but I never demanded any medication, that’s her job to tell me what he needs.  The doctor we saw had a quick look in his ears and throat.  She never took his temperature or did anything else.  She told me he had a throat and ear infection but she wouldn’t give him antibiotics.  

He was lethargic, could barely life his own arms up and genuinely really poorly. 

But she was the expert right?  He went to sleep in his buggy.  When we got home I transferred him to the sofa and he spent the next 24 hours sleeping fitfully.  There was no improvement the next day, and feeling that something really wasn’t right I got another appointment.  It was a different doctor who took one look at my son and said “this little boy is really poorly.  He needs antibiotics.”  He debated whether he should admit him to hospital there and then, but told me to bring him back again tomorrow.  If there was no improvement he would be admitted.  In the meantime if he went any further downhill I was to take him to A&E immediately.

Thankfully, towards the end of the 24 hours and having had several doses of the antibiotic his fever finally dropped.  He started to improve.  But I have always been left feeling that the first doctor should have listened to me.  Examined him more thoroughly, and prescribed the antibiotics.  His history showed that he had only ever been on them once before.

My worry is that parents will put off taking their kids to the doctors just to be told it’s viral. 

That doctors will miss the times kids really do need some medical intervention.  That articles like calpol is the heroin of childhood are scaremongering and damaging.

And I have to wonder, is it me?  No parent wants to see their child in pain.  Am I being to mama bear about it all?  Is it my doctors surgery?  Should I change practices to one with a smaller patient to doctor ratio?  Or is it a problem elsewhere too?  Do other people agree that we are going too far the other way?  Are children being denied antibiotics when they are genuinely needed?  

I asked for some opinions on the matter, and got a pretty mixed bag…

children being denied anitibiotics


Are children being denied antibiotics


My opinion would be that the Doctors are well trained and I trust their judgement and just hope it is right. There will always be mistakes, but I do believe they know more than me, so who am I to judge.  Just Average Jen


It depends on the individual Doctor or Doctors practice which means that some are given when others aren’t. I can understand the reasoning as to why they don’t give them out as much now, if things carried on as they were we would be facing a world without antibiotics that work as many of the bacteria are becoming resistant and if there is anything we can do to prevent that then we should. My understanding was that vulnerable patients such as pregnant women and children were usually still given them when needed and that has certainly been my experience. We were actually given a prescription when Charlotte had bronchitis at 3 months old and I didn’t give them to her because it is caused by a virus and not a bacteria so would have done nothing to help. I think we all need to be open to educating ourselves on when they are mandatory so that as patients and parents of patients we can either say no thank you, or put our foot down and demand something more.  Arthur Wears


I am in the not sure camp. My son’s Doctor mis-diagnosed something that was wrong with him. They then put him on antibiotics which didn’t work. They then tried a different type and they didn’t work. Then another type and they didn’t work. In the end they had to try some much stronger antibiotics which they had been avoiding using. This particular type cured him but stained his teeth yellow which he now has until he loses his baby teeth. While I wish they’d have used the strongest type first instead of 3 weeks on slightly weaker ones which weren’t right for what was wrong with him. I also wish they had noticed that this particular type can stain kids teeth in liquid form. So in this case I have my concerns that antibiotics are being used unnecessarily. I do agree with their decisions to use them less, however some children need them a lot because of allergies.  Our Bucket List Lives


Its infuriating, I appreciate Doctors are extremely well educated individuals. However, in my experience over the last few years they’ve got several things wrong for our family. My 3 children have been admitted into hospital (a week at a time) 7 times over the last couple of years because I was told they ‘had a simple cold’ and it would go away, then developing into pneumonia because it had been left untreated. Even with their history, when they showed signs of being poorly they were still refused medication. I went to the Doctor myself extremely unwell after having my son, I was told, again, it was nothing, just ‘normal recovery’ I ended up admitted to hospital with sepsis and almost died because I had been left untreated. I really feel that sometimes, we as parents do know best, we know our children and we know when they could really benefit from medication. Our experience is pretty extreme but I feels it’s gone way too far the other way.  You, Me, Raising Three


I trust Doctors but it’s hard to fully remove doubt when you realise that they are under pressure to save money and reduce the use of antibiotics. My recommendation is to find a Doctor you trust and trying to make sure they answer any questions and concerns you may have.  Dad Geek


I see both sides of the argument. On one hand I think people are often too quick to ask for antibiotics sometimes which only serves to build resistance to them (when used unnecessarily) but I hear a lot about parents knowing their child needs something more than the remedies they have already tried and being ignored. Thankfully we have a great relationship with our GP who trusts my judgement. He knows that I don’t ask for medication lightly (for myself or my boys) and trusts me. I think it’s definitely about having a good relationship and only using when absolutely necessary. Our Altered Life


I had it the other way round: my daughter was given antibiotics and sent home when she actually had appendicitis and should have been checked more carefully. Eps and Amy


It really annoys me when commentators on TV say “Doctors must stop handing out antibiotics like sweeties.” In my experience they never have. They are extremely reluctant to prescribe them but also they don’t always run tests to back up their assumptions. For example, 4 GPs missed my daughter’s strep throat. Only the 5th GP did a swab.  Falcondale Life


I struggle in that Doctors want to issue first line antibiotics to my children, however, it is noted on their records that this doesn’t work and that they need second-line antibiotics. Some GP’s will take note of this and issue the correct ones. However, on two occasions my daughter has ended up in the hospital due to incorrect antibiotics being prescribed and her condition worsening. Boo Roo and Tiger Too


I certainly don’t go to the Doctor’s requesting antibiotics, but if I was concerned enough about my child’s illness to take them to the GP, and the GP thought it was absolutely necessary I’d be happy for them to them take them. However I am extremely cautious about them being over prescribed, mainly because I am now allergic to penicillin as a direct result of being over prescribed them during a 3 month period for a systemic infection a few years back. I think it’s important to remember that it’s not just about antibiotic overuse causing resistance. Overuse can also be extremely detrimental to your long term immunity and cause hypersensitivity to their use. The Mum Conundrum


 As a former scientist I can see both sides of the argument for the use of antibiotics. I agree that you should have a doctor that you can trust. All too often I have seen people going to surgeries expecting antibiotics for something that is viral. Antibiotics don’t work on viral ailments and it is for this reason doctors are reluctant to prescribe them. That, and the fact that there are more and more antibiotic resistant bacteria forming. Over-use of antibiotics has caused this and it is a worrying thought that one day nothing will work on certain bacteria. That said, when it comes to children I think a thorough examination needs to be done. I also think doctors need to heed family history more where antibiotics are concerned. My husband is allergic to penicillin yet one doctor prescribed it for our son, only for him to come out in a rash within hours. At least we know now.  Battle Mum


You might be interested to learn that in France the generalist doctors I have come across are quite happy to prescribe antibiotics, and also quite regularly steroids too (for chest infections and the likes) to help you along. So whilst the NHS is gallantly trying to preserve the usefulness of the antibiotics that we have available to us (imagine a world where none work anymore), it really seems to me to need to be a world wide effort with a similar zeal to have a the intended effect.  Five Little Stars


From my experience I feel like they give out antibiotics just to get you out of their office, I was given antibiotics for my son who was having a stomach bug, and with the nature of what antibiotics do to children’s bodies he ended up with really runny poo and became even worse, GP’s need to be trained better at detecting real issues that need antibiotics and stop giving them out for a cold which happens a lot around here, some seem very set in their ways and forget that viruses evolve and are becoming immune to them. Mummy Cat Notes


I was very ill with the flu a couple of years ago and the Doctor said that they couldn’t prescribe me tamiflu because it wasn’t an epidemic yet (it was declared an epidemic a couple of days later). However, she did say that tamiflu doesn’t really do anything so…and to be fair to the Doctor she said she would be admitting me to hospital if there was no one at home to keep an eye on me. My youngest was poorly with chickenpox this year and her whole left eye became swollen and they did move fast that time and were very quick to prescribe antibiotics because they were worried about her eyesight. I think a lot of it depends on the Doctor you get.  Island Living 365


So it would appear that overuse of antibiotics is still a big problem.  As is not being used when they are needed.  It seems to all depend on the doctor you see.

What do you think?  Are children being denied antibiotics in your area, or are they dished out like smarties?


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Claire Kirby

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