Should Physicians Consider the Environmental Effects of Prescribing Antibiotics?

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Should Physicians Consider the Environmental Effects of Prescribing Antibiotics?

AMA J Ethics. 2017 Oct 01;19(10):957-965

Authors: Balch J, Schoen JH, Patel PK

Abstract
Pharmaceuticals are beginning to receive attention as a source of pollution in aquatic environments. Yet the impact of physician prescription patterns on water resources is not often discussed in clinical decision making. Here, we comment on a case in which empiric antibiotic treatment might benefit a patient while simultaneously being detrimental to the aquatic environment. We first highlight the potential harm caused by this prescription from its production to its disposal. We then suggest that Van Rensselaer Potter's original conceptualization of bioethics can be used to balance clinicians' obligations to protect individual, public, and environmental health.

PMID: 29028464 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]