Parents may be left a little confused with new medical advice suggesting paracetamol and ibuprofen should not be given to children with a fever… unless they are ‘uncomfortable or distressed’.
It’s one of many recommendations given by medical professionals under a crackdown on unnecessary medical treatment.
Doctors reviewed 61 of the most commonly sought treatments and submitted to the NPS Choosing Wisely Australia campaign – which aims to reduce health costs and improve the country’s medical industry.
But parents might be left feeling a bit confronted by some of the advice.
One decision suggests parents shouldn’t give antibiotics to children (aged 2-12) who are screaming in pain with ear infection.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners claimed regardless of whether one or both of the child’s ear drums were inflamed, antibiotics did not help to reduce the pain within 24 hours.
Instead college president Dr Frank Jones advised parents to use paracetamol or ibuprofen to manage the pain.
Dr Jones told the Daily Telegraphy antibiotics should only be given if the child had a fever, was vomiting or felt lethargic.
Another college found paracetamol and ibuprofen wasn’t the answer when it came to reducing fever when a child was sick.
The Australian College of Nursing advised that medicine should only be used to reduce a child’s temperature if the child felt uncomfortable or was distressed.
“Fever is defined as a rise in body temperature above the normal range of approximately 37.8 degrees Celsius and is commonly seen as a primary indication of illness in children,” the findings claimed.
“It is a normal physiological response to infection and illness and will not place a generally healthy child at harm.
“The benefits of fever in slowing the growth and replication of bacteria and viruses are well documented,” they claimed.
President of the Australian Medical Association, Professor Brian Owler told the Daily Telegraph the Choosing Wisely campaign allowed doctors to look at evidence and recommend certain practices that were not providing the best value.
The campaign has also called for a stop to prescribing antibiotics to infants with a fever, because it ‘can be dangerous in delaying presentation to hospital by inappropriately reassuring patients.”
One in 14 children suffered side effects from antibiotics and it was found overuse fuelled the rise of antibiotic resistant infections.
Medical colleges have also called to stop X-Rays of most food and ankle injuries.
Doctors were also advised to refuse chest X-Rays for uncomplicated bronchitis cases and not to prescribe antibiotics for upper respiratory infections.
Chest X-Rays were the most frequently ordered by Australian General Practitioners.
It was found routine CT scans for some cancers and appendicitis could be harmful in delivering unnecessary radiation.
The review also warned some people could die from complications of routine colonoscopies and advise routine faecal testing for bowel cancer was safer.
It found 13 percent of people 50-75 years of age were over-screened when using a colonoscopy, a procedure that costs $3000.
The campaign also called for doctors to reconsider ordering thyroid ultrasounds, ultrasounds for groin hernias, endoscopies for gastric band patients and imaging for non-specific low back pain.
Doctors were also advised not to order multiple blood tests for people suffering fatigue.
Palliative care instead of intensive care solutions was advised for people who were coming to the end of their life, and they should be taken off medications that were used to prevent disease.
A ‘watch and wait’ was issued to surgeons when it came to hernias instead of operating immediately.
The review advised antibiotics should not be taken for more than seven days without review and anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen, should not be taken by elderly patients for more than two weeks.
Dr Jones said he hoped the review would help to kick start conversations between doctors and their patients.