Often, when parents take their children to see a doctor, they want to leave with a prescription or treatment to help their sick young ones to feel better right away. However, when doctors prescribe medications that are unnecessary, it can have long-term negative effects.

Recently, a study identified Tennessee as the sixth-highest state in the country in antibiotic prescriptions, reports WKU Public Radio. Doctors used to routinely prescribe antibiotics for health conditions thought to be bacterial, such as colds and earaches. Now, though, medical science has identified many of these issues as the effect of viruses, which are not susceptible to medications. Instead, patients are typically better off simply waiting for the illness to run its course.

Over-prescribing antibiotics can raise the risk of “superbugs” that have developed a resistance to the drugs. Even so, 2% of the state’s pediatricians write 25% of the state’s antibiotic prescriptions, causing some to wonder if these doctors are behind the times when it comes to medical research and development of the past 20 years.

The study also reports that for every 1,000 children in Tennessee, there was an average of 1,165 prescriptions for antibiotics, and for children under 2 years old, the number was even higher. The national average is 50% lower.

When pediatricians make any kind of medication mistake, the effects on young children have the potential to be devastating. Doctors have a duty to their patients to understand current medical research and the effects of drugs. Parents whose children have suffered health problems because of a wrong prescription may find that they have legal options to seek justice and compensation from a negligent pediatrician.