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The use of Antibiotics in the Treatment

A 41-year-old female presents to the doctor’s office you work at complaining of a sore throat and headache. Upon examination, she is diagnosed with a virus that is currently prevalent in the area she works. She is told to rest and drink liquids until the virus has run its course. She becomes irate and tells you she wants an antibiotic. How could you explain to her why she does not need an antibiotic?

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Mediating a conflict between a doctor and a patient has to consider several key issues: the objective of conflict mediation, and the establishment of truth (McKibben, 2017). In this scenario, the objective is to have the patient comply with the prescription and not attempt to obtain an antibiotic when she is having a viral infection. At the same time, the possibility of the patient’s reactions being justified should also be considered.

The presented case raises several questions about how the doctor handled the situation prior to the patient’s demand for an antibiotic. Modern-day healthcare is expensive and often time-consuming, so a patient that came for an appointment with a doctor has managed to set aside time and resources to do so. The woman in this situation is clearly expecting the doctor to give her some sort of prescription to mitigate the symptoms of her infection, which are bothering her (McKibben, 2017). Instead of providing her with an antiviral medicine or a set of drugs to manage her symptoms (headache, sore throat), the doctor essentially told her to wait it out and do nothing except drink lots of liquids (something the patient likely already knows).

In demanding an antibiotic, the patient does not specifically wish to receive one, instead, she shows protest towards the perceived lack of interest and concern for her wellbeing (McKibben, 2017). From her point of view, the doctor just told her to get lost. Therefore, explaining to her that she does not need an antibiotic should not be difficult. Instead, the doctor should prescribe her a medicine against the virus and a few cheap and available drugs to manage the symptoms. That way, the patient will be placated and her condition would be managed better. The fault in potentially escalating conflict, in this situation, lies with the doctor.


Fleischli, J. W., & Adams, W. R. (1999). Use of postoperative steroids to reduce pain and inflammation. The Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery, 38(3), 232-237.

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McKibben, L. (2017). Conflict management: Importance and implications. British Journal of Nursing, 26(2), 100-103.

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Polderman, J. A. W., Farhang‐Razi, V., van Dieren, S., Kranke, P., DeVries, J. H., Hollmann, M. W.,… & Hermanides, J. (2019). Adverse side‐effects of dexamethasone in surgical patients. Anaesthesia, 74(7), 929-939.

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