New test reduces antibiotics use

By Donna Duggan

New test reduces antibiotics use

Like many people I have a love-hate relationship with antibiotics. I don’t hesitate in using them when needed but I’m well aware of their unfavourable side effects, from stomach upsets (due to the beneficial bacterial being wiped out in the digestive tract) to increased tooth decay.

Both of my sons had chronic tonsillitis which was more often than not treated with antibiotics. While their sore throats were cured, the antibiotics themselves did leave a fairly awful mess.

The next time you are at the doctors for a sore throat, ask about the new FeverPain score. It could save you a course of antibiotics. Researchers at the University of Southampton have devised a new test for people with sore throats to potentially reduce the amount of antibiotics prescribed. The research, which has just been published in the British Medical Journal, details the FeverPAIN score, a five-item test which can indicate whether antibiotics are needed or not.

The FeverPAIN score includes; fever in the past 24 hours, a pus infection, rapid attendance [within three days], inflamed tonsils and no cough or cold symptoms. Results showed that using the test reduced antibiotic use by almost 30 per cent and despite using fewer antibiotics, patients in the FeverPAIN score group experienced greater improvements in symptoms.

Professor Paul Little who led the research says, “Our findings show that using this clinical score test can target antibiotics more effectively and help persuade patients antibiotics are not needed. Additionally the FeverPAIN score should enable better targeting of antibiotics than the current scoring system to identify the likelihood of a bacterial infection in patients complaining of a sore throat, as it allows GPs to rule out likely streptococcal infection in more patients.”

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