You’re feeling pretty unwell and have a cold. You’ve had a cold before and a course of antibiotics prescribed by your GP at the time seemed to help. Your friend has also experienced symptoms very similar to yours, so your mind is now set; you need another course of antibiotics. You visit your GP to explain your symptoms and ask for another course.
Should the Dr give you what you want (the antibiotics) or what you need – education about your condition (specifically the difference between a viral vs bacterial infection) and the alternative treatment options to manage your symptoms as they run their natural course?
Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections and have no effect on a virus.
If the Dr did provide you with a course of antibiotics, your symptoms from the viral infection *will* improve with time, which would only reinforce the belief that antibiotics are an effectively treatment for a virus. “Well why not then?” some may say… well, because anything which has the potential to do good also has the potential to do harm – water will kill you if you drink too much of it. Every medication has ‘effects’; some are the wanted effects of treatment but typically there are many unwanted effects (we call them side-effects). The course of antibiotics could leave you worse off that when you started, so it wouldn’t be smart to go down the path of taking something which isn’t helpful.
As registered allied health professionals Physiotherapists are obligated to provide our clients/patients with a clinical service which is supported by contemporary evidence. We shouldn’t be selling products and services which have no specific effect or which cannot be supported. Whilst any business needs to remain profitable, it cannot come at the cost of sacrificing our professional and ethical obligations to provide the client/patient with what they need, not what they want.