Antibiotics overused in Alzheimer patients

Should people with Alzheimer's disease/dementia be treated with antibiotics? According to a new study, they say that antibiotics are being overused in patients with dementia and antibiotic use should be considered more carefully especially in this time of antibiotic resistant superbugs. (AP)

The study raises ethical questions about when it's acceptable to withhold perhaps futile treatment and let people die, and whether public health issues should ever be considered.

"Advanced dementia is a terminal illness," said study co-author Dr. Susan Mitchell, a senior scientist with the Harvard-affiliated Hebrew Senior Life Institute for Aging Research in Boston. "If we substituted 'end-stage cancer' for 'advanced dementia,' I don't think people would have any problem understanding this."

People wouldn't have a problem understanding this? Of course, when you paint a picture like that. Here's the question, though- What is advanced dementia? There really is no consensus definition. Of course, really end stage cases even medical students can diagnose. But, the problem is that there is a spectrum of diagnosis. Where do you draw the line between moderate dementia and advanced dementia? There is no agreement with this.

I can see both sides of the end of life debate getting ready to do battle again. Remember Terri Schiavo? Remember Baby Emilio? Remember the use of chip implants in Alzheimer patients? The use of antibiotics in dementia/alzheimer patients is just another chapter in this debate.

One side is saying that the progression of antibiotic resistant organisms can be stopped by appropriately prescribing antibiotics - meaning not those patients with advanced Alzheimer's disease. The other side is saying once you limit antibiotic treatment for people with Alzheimer's, the danger is there to start using the same argument to stop treatment of other medical conditions (like high blood pressure). What's your take on this debate? I'm curious....