Penicillin was discovered 90 years ago – and despite resistance, the future looks good for antibiotics

 

by Professor Alastair Hay
Professor of Primary Care
Centre for Academic Primary Care

When the NHS turned 70 this year, I was reminded of another anniversary which has had an enormous impact on healthcare over many years. Penicillin is 90 this year.

Discovered in September 1928 by Alexander Fleming, it was first used as a cure when George Paine treated eye infections with it in 1930. A method for mass production was devised by Howard Florey and Ernst Chain in 1940, and it was first mass produced in 1942, with half of that total supply used for one patient being treated for streptococcal septicaemia.

In 1944, 2.3m doses were produced in time for the Normandy landings of World War II. And it was then that the miracle of penicillin became clear. Soldiers who had previously died from septicaemia were surviving.

Expectations rose. If penicillin could cure septicaemia, what … Read more

How gut feeling guides clinician treatment decisions and why it’s not always enough

by Sophie Turnbull
PhD Student
Centre for Academic Primary Care

 

Clinician intuition and gut feelings are often talked about in health care but are largely mysterious. Clinicians describe just knowing that there was something wrong with a patient but not exactly how they came to that conclusion.

In a recent study we aimed to unpick how clinicians form their gut feelings, how they use them to influence treatment decisions, and whether their gut feeling was good at predicting whether a child with infectious cough would get sicker in the 30 days after seeing them.

Using gut feeling to predict outcome in children with infectious cough

Infectious cough in children is the most common problem managed by health services internationally.  Although the majority of children get better on their own, a small proportion end up hospital with a serious illness. Clinicians do not always find it easy to establish … Read more

Why are so many children given antibiotics for a cough?

Christie CabralBy Dr Christie Cabral
Research Associate
Centre for Academic Primary Care

When I first started researching infectious cough in children, lots of clinicians told me they couldn’t understand why so many parents brought in children who were well enough to turn the consulting room upside down before they even started the examination. As a parent of two young children myself, I had some idea, but as a qualitative researcher, I was keen to get a balanced view.

In the TARGET Programme* we wanted to answer two questions. Given that most coughs will get better on their own:

1) Why do so many parents consult when their child has a cough?
2) Why do so many clinicians prescribe antibiotics for children with coughs?

We conducted five qualitative studies and began to notice common themes, not just across the studies but also shared by parents and clinicians. We found normative beliefs Read more