This question involves the connection between broad-spectrum antibiotics and the development of resistance and opportunistic infection. .
Question A: The overuse of broad-spectrum antibiotics is dangerous because as we have seen in our discussions it can lead to increased development of antibiotic resistance. It also is involved in the development of opportunistic infections due to the destruction of normal microbial flora (superinfections). This can be especially dangerous in a hospital setting where many opportunistic infections can be hard to deal with.
Question B: The most effective way to prescribe antibiotics is to determine the pathogen involved in the infection and select a narrow spectrum antibiotic that will attack that organism and not affect the normal flora. Sadly, this is a difficult approach because of the time and expense involved in identifying the specific pathogen. In today’s world most people don’t want to take the time or have the added expense so they are given broad-spectrum antibiotics instead.
This question asks about the proper use of antibiotics and the use of antibiotics for bacterial as opposed to viral infections.
Question A: You should caution here that her idea could be very dangerous. Antibiotics are designed to work at specific doses taken over specific time periods and to interrupt this timeline can foster the development of antibiotic resistance.
Question B: The prescription for penicillin in this case was probably a poor decision. Recall that penicillin is an antibacterial agent but the symptoms she is exhibiting are similar to those seen in viral respiratory infections. In addition, she has just received a flu shot which can in some cases bring on flu like symptoms. Therefore, antibiotics that attack bacteria will probably be useless for this patient.