As serendipity would have it, an article printed on the same day as the consultation pretty much concluded what answer I gave to the parents. More oddly still, the chief investigator of the programme is Alastair Hay! It’s not me though, he’s the Professor of Primary care at The University of Bristol as well as a GP.
The answer I gave, was that we tend to go to the GP because we want reassurance that everything is OK, or that something is going on that’s beyond what we’re able to deal with ourselves. The GP then feels a duty to reassure, and often prescribe.
We live in an ever increasingly litigious society so the GP may also feel pressurised to prescribe something ‘just in case’. Imagine a situation where a GP hadn’t prescribed a medicine, yet could have done, and something more serious precipitated that was deemed preventable with early intervention with antibiotics.
We can also feel that we’ve wasted our GPs time if they don’t prescribe.
There’s also an increasing trend toward parents being considered negligent if they don’t seek medical advice, our GP often being the most reliable, first port of call.
Conclusions in this article which I wholeheartedly agree with are:
Dr Cabral and her colleagues believe that interventions to reduce unnecessary prescribing for children with respiratory tract infections (RTIs) should increase GPs’, and to a lesser extent parents’, confidence in the safety of not prescribing. This will allow them to modify their behaviour while still conforming to the social norm of ensuring child safety.
Dr Cabral added: “We also need to increase parents’ confidence in their ability to distinguish and care for self-limiting illness at home. An increasing number of children are attending primary care or A&E and health services are struggling to cope. Our research shows that simple messages such as telling parents to manage these illness at home are unlikely to work when there is such a social pressure on parents to consult. We need to engage more widely with the social beliefs that create that pressure on parents.”
“It's safer to …” parent consulting and clinician antibiotic prescribing decisions for children with respiratory tract infections: An analysis across four qualitative studies
Why are so many children given antibiotics for a cough?
NHS sets aside quarter of its budget for medical negligence claims