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Communication Summary

watch Nick Francis summarises the reason to re-evaluate your communication regarding your patient consultations around the use of antibiotic for RTIs
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Using the target Treat Your Infection leaflet or other well-designed leaflets can help make this whole process more effective. Most patients that come to see you with a respiratory tract infection are not wedded to the idea that they absolutely have to have an antibiotic, even if they are expecting one because of past experience has led them to believe that antibiotics are needed for chest infections. Good communication really can make a difference, not only in terms of how often you prescribe antibiotics, but also in terms of the whole quality of your consultations, making these consultations more satisfying for both you and your patients. And leading to patients who feel more empowered and consult less frequently and more appropriately.
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Changing your communication style does not have to be difficult or time consuming, either. Most of us are probably doing some things really well. But most of us also have areas that could be improved. My challenge to you is to have an open mind, spend some time reflecting on your communication strategies and how they might be improved, and discussing approaches that seem to be helpful or not so helpful with your colleagues. So my take home messages for you are– don’t assume that patients want antibiotics, even if they seem to be hinting that they do. Ask patients about their concerns and/or what their thoughts about antibiotics are.
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Provide them with an assessment of what you think the cause of their symptoms is and how long it’s likely last, and what might help. Give the patient an indication of the likely benefits and risks of antibiotics. And finally, consider using printed information, such as the Treat Your Infection leaflet, to help support what you say.

Nick Francis summarises the reason to re-evaluate your communication regarding your patient consultations around the use of antibiotic for respiratory tract infections.

Important communication points:

• Don’t assume that patients WANT to take antibiotics even though they are hinting that they do

• Ask patients about their concerns and their thoughts on using antibiotics

• Provide patients with an assessment of their condition, how long it is likely to last and self-help measures

• Give patients the likely benefits and risk of antibiotics

• Consider using printed information such as the Treating Your Infection leaflet to help support your consultation

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TARGET Antibiotics – Prescribing in Primary Care

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