Antibiotics spree revealed

More than half of Hong Kong people have the misconception that colds and flu can be treated by antibiotics, a Department of Health survey shows.

Riley Chan

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

More than half of Hong Kong people have the misconception that colds and flu can be treated by antibiotics, a Department of Health survey shows.

But this is not true, says the department, which commissioned the University of Hong Kong to find out from interviews with 1,255 people aged 15 and above. The misconception led some patients to request antibiotics prescriptions from doctors, although it is not necessary, Angus Chan Ming-wai, president of the College of Family Physicians, said at a seminar yesterday.

It was earlier reported that almost half the people in Hong Kong have taken antibiotics in the past 12 months. This compared with only 34.6 percent in 2011.

"Antibiotics are not a panacea," Chan said. "They have no effect on viral infections such as upper respiratory tract infection and flu. Only bacterial infections can be treated by antibiotics."

Chan said 98 percent of respondents said they would trust the doctor's decision of not prescribing antibiotics if the doctor explained. This showed education of patients is crucial. The Centre for Health Protection launched an antibiotic stewardship program yesterday to start World Antibiotic Awareness Week.