Could my father's GP have diagnosed him well enough over the phone to prescribe antibiotics?

I hope this doesn’t cross the line into asking for medical advice; I think it shouldn’t, as I’m not asking about myself, nor am I looking for info that I will use to choose a course of action.

My father’s in his mid-seventies. For the past week or so he’s had symptoms of a cold–runny nose, slight fever, hoarseness, and so forth. He goes through this every other month or so and generally prefers to treat it with a horrid concoction of lemon & garlic based tea. This episode has been quite intransigent, though, and I and my sisters have been nagging him to go to the doctor. He doesn’t like doing so. The other day, one of my sisters called for him and managed to get a prescription for 10 amoxicillins, without him ever being examined. This is the first time he’s gotten this scrip.

Could a doctor or nurse practitioner have diagnosed him well enough over the phone to justify this?



Was he running a fever?

Any medical professional who can differentiate between viral and bacterial infections over the phone is pretty special. And not in a good way.

On the other hand, if a doctor has an elderly patient who won’t come in to be examined, and has the typical symptoms of a cold or mild respiratory infection, a prescription for 5-days worth of a standard antibiotic like this is reasonable. If it’s a bacterial infection, this prescription will treat it. If it’s viral, nothing will really cure it, but this prescription won’t hurt him.

Obviously, it would be better if your father would go in for an exam. But since he won’t, this doctor at least tried to do something that may help him. Sounds like a good doc to me!