Although repeated testing would not be economically feasible outside of the hospital setting, primary care doctors - who write 85 percent of antibiotic prescriptions - could advise patients to stop taking the antibiotics when they feel better, the commentary authors propose.
"The evidence for "completing the course" is poor, and the length of the course of antibiotics has been estimated based on a fear of under-treating rather than any studies", she said, adding that there are a few exceptions of diseases when longer treatment courses are better, such as tuberculosis, which has a minimum treatment period of six months.
"If the suggestion is to stop taking antibiotics when you "feel better", then how are you to judge 'feeling better?' Symptoms mostly gone?"
Doctors always tell you: finish your antibiotics.
Oxford professor Tim Peto said he was taught about the importance of finishing a course of antibiotics as a medical student, but when he began discussing the origin of the idea with his colleagues, "no one could work out where it came from". "It went through word of mouth, before the internet", he told The Independent.
Policy makers, educators and doctors need to stop advocating "complete the course" when it comes to antibiotics, United Kingdom experts have urged, saying that the "deeply embedded" link between stopping antibiotic treatment early and antibiotic resistance is not supported by hard evidence.
Well, we have Alexander Fleming to blame. People fall ill only when the bug gets into the bloodstream or the gut. "We think it became embedded in people's minds and became part of the "known facts".
Bacteria have developed multiple tactics to boost their resistance, depending on the infection and antibiotic involved.
Other experts in infectious diseases backed the group.
"The Department of Health will continue to review the evidence on prescribing and drug-resistant infections, as we aim to continue the great progress we have made at home and overseas on this issue". "This collateral selection is the predominant driver of the important forms of antibiotic resistance affecting patients today". "Reducing unnecessary antibiotic use is therefore essential to mitigate antibiotic resistance".
Because "antibiotics are a precious and finite natural resource which should be conserved by tailoring treatment duration for individual patients", the authors call at the end of their commentary for more clinical trials "to determine the most effective strategies for optimizing duration of antibiotic treatment".
"In many cases courses are quite short, for example for urinary tract infections, three days is often enough to cure the infection", she said.
"You should take the course of antibiotics as prescribed and that doctors need to be careful that they only prescribe the necessary course of antibiotics for paricular patients for a particular condition".
Long standing doctor's orders to always "complete the course" of prescribed medicine should be DROPPED to protect against antibiotic resistance, suggests a new report. "But we're not at that stage yet".
In February, the World Health Organization warned that the world is on the cusp of a "post-antibiotic" era with dozens of bacteria - not just sexually transmitted bugs - growing resistant to all medications we have on hand.
"Whilst there has been an enormous focus on developing new agents to combat AMR, there is just not enough existing data and current research to optimise the prescribing of existing antibiotics in terms of dosage and duration", she said.
It is hard to test the theory that a shorter antibiotic course may be just as effective as a longer one, because the importance of completing a full course of antibiotic treatment is so deeply embedded in both doctors and patients.