Can I get Antibiotics via an Online Telehealth Visit?

March 30, 2021

Telehealth has become a preferred method of seeking medical attention for matters that don't require going to the doctor's office or even as a precursor to face-to-face meetings. Telehealth facilitates access to medical care through computers and mobile devices, but you may not be aware of all the services you can request through it, like prescriptions for antibiotics.

Online doctors can offer prescriptions for medicine such as antibiotics without the need for an in-person appointment. Patients can obtain antibiotic prescriptions through an online consultation when medically appropriate. A medical provider will observe your symptoms and either prescribe an antibiotic or develop an alternative treatment.

Telehealth is a valuable tool at your disposal, especially if you are looking to reduce in-person appointments or if you live too far from your doctor's office. Read on to find out how online doctors can help you and when they can prescribe antibiotics.

Explaining Antibiotics and Online Doctors

There are various factors to consider when you'd like to receive medical care via telehealth (also known as telemedicine). These will primarily vary depending on your condition and how it manifests.

  • How it works online: Appointments online follow a different sort of process. You will be seen by a medical professional, and they will either offer treatment or refer you to a relevant office appointment.
  • Getting antibiotics: You will be prescribed antibiotics when medically relevant and when your online doctor is sure about your condition without the need for further check-ups.
  • What antibiotics are for: You should request antibiotic treatment if you have a bacterial infection, and the doctor will determine the best course.
  • The benefits: Telehealth can offer various advantages by saving you a trip to the doctor's office or by getting you an initial consultation that then leads to a follow-up appointment in person. There are some things it can't replace, but it offers excellent ease of access.
  • State regulations: Telehealth will vary according to the state you live in and may change during times of health crises. Being aware of telehealth regulations in your state will be beneficial before you use it to know what to seek from it.

What is Telehealth?

Telehealth combines healthcare and technology to provide medical attention to patients outside of a doctor's office, a clinic, or a hospital. This medical attention is delivered through electronic means on computers and mobile devices, and it reaches patients and other healthcare providers. Providers can use virtual visits to educate patients and families.

Telehealth is used to:

  • Diagnose patients
  • Prescribe treatment if necessary
  • Refer to further in-person specialists. 

Telehealth can minimize crowds at medical centers while minimizing travel to receive medical care, especially for non-emergencies.

Technology can also be used to manage long-term illnesses like diabetes, mainly through apps. Many of them offer tools like helpful videos, trackers, and medication logs. You can have direct access to your online patient portal and even request new prescriptions and medication refills. 

Telehealth seeks to provide accessibility that goes beyond the limits of in-person appointments. Virtual visits are particularly useful when traveling to receive healthcare is inadvisable, and they can streamline the process by leading the patient directly to the relevant specialist. It can also keep the patient in direct communication with doctors outside of their allocated slot.

Online patient portals are the first point of access to telehealth that many healthcare providers give their patients. From there, you can seek out online appointments with doctors or nurses to either manage your health problems or find diagnoses for new ones. Primary doctors and specialists can help monitor any conditions while collaborating on treatment.

Telehealth is a convenient option that can quickly put you into contact with the necessary healthcare specialists. It can't fully replace in-person consultations for specific medical issues, but it can simplify receiving medical attention.

How Do Online Appointments Work?

Depending on your telehealth provider, you will be asked to fill out a survery with your medical history when you seek out an online appointment. Payment options and insurance coverage also vary, with some services taking payment before the appointment and some after. When booking, check the provider's insurance options.

The survey will include your known allergies and conditions, as well as some information on the reason you're seeking out an online appointment. This will ensure that you will have access to a licensed medical professional relevant to your needs during the appointment itself.  

The appointment will follow the pattern that you'll be familiar with from in-person visits to the doctor. The only change will be that the routine physical examination will be missing. You will be asked questions about your symptoms, as well as whether you've taken any medication already. 

The online appointment may be longer than the usual in-person ones because the medical professional will be taking their time to understand what the correct diagnosis would be based on your symptoms. Following the questioning part of the appointment, they will prescribe treatment if they can make a diagnosis.

If your medical provider cannot make a diagnosis without a physical examination or further tests, they will refer you to either a specialist or an in-person doctor appointment. They may order further testing such as CT scans, MRI, or additional laboratory work.

If they see no further need for an investigation, they will agree on their set treatment with you and usually send it off to your nearest pharmacy for accessible collection. 

Telehealth doctors prescribe medical treatments only when they see a need for them. If there is no need for medicine like antibiotics, they will offer relevant advice for your condition while also identifying it.

Some Issues You Might Need Antibiotics to Treat

Several medical issues may require you to go on a treatment of antibiotics. Bacterial infections will trigger these issues. Antibiotics are medicines that stop the spread of these infections by either destroying the bacteria or taking away their ability to reproduce.

Antibiotics can't fight against issues caused by viruses, like the cold and the flu. They can, however, help with illnesses like;

There are different types of antibiotics that either target specific bacteria or an array of them. Depending on what is causing your infection, you will be prescribed one or the other, and that may alternate if the initially prescribed antibiotic isn't stopping the bacteria.

There are good bacteria in the body, which means that a course of antibiotics will affect those too, resulting in potential side effects from the medication. Antibiotics' impact on good bacteria is why you will only be prescribed antibiotics when necessary and usually alongside something to protect your stomach.

Antibiotics can also interact with other medicines, making the initial survey for the online appointment essential for deciding this treatment. Any reactions to previous antibiotic therapies have to be mentioned too if there are any allergies to consider.

Doctors will also only prescribe this treatment if necessary to avoid a build-up of antibiotic resistance. The potential for antibiotic resistance is why antibiotics should only be prescribed if there is no other treatment, only for bacterial infections and for the exact number of days prescribed by your medical professional.

Can I Get Antibiotics Without Seeing A Doctor?

Doctors do not prescribe antibiotics without plenty of cause, and the same is true when it comes to online appointments. Your symptoms will be carefully analyzed alongside your medical history to determine whether a course of antibiotics would be the best treatment for your diagnosis.

Licensed medical professionals offering online appointments can prescribe antibiotics but will only do so when necessary. Your provider will follow guidelines in prescribing antibiotics to avoid over-prescribing this medication, prevent antibiotic resistance, and ensure that it is only used for the relevant bacterial infections and not for illnesses caused by viruses.

To get a prescription for antibiotics online, you will first have to book an appointment with a licensed medical professional, as all antibiotics require a prescription. They will then carefully consider your potential diagnosis, and once they have settled on one, they will prescribe treatment if needed. 

Your online doctor will then arrange for the medicine to reach your local pharmacy and create a follow-up appointment at the end of the prescribed treatment time to check if the antibiotics have had the desired effect. At that point, they can either prolong the same treatment or try out a different antibiotic if there has been little progress, but in general, extensions aren't a preferred option.

It is important to note that not every condition requires antibiotics; your doctor knows best. You can book an appointment with an online doctor for various these issues, which will also depend on the provider. You may think you need an antibiotic, but you should trust your provider to make the right decision. 

Here Are Some of the Conditions Only Covered In Person

Some medical issues can only be adequately treated with in-person medical appointments that offer a more in-depth investigation. These are the most frequently encountered:


This may go without saying, but online doctors cannot treat medical emergencies. These require urgent care in emergency rooms, where you will receive the best treatment immediately upon arrival. Emergencies can be both physical and mental and may require calling an ambulance, depending on the matter's severity. If you need more information about telehealth and emergencies then click here.

What Are the Benefits of Online Appointments?

Online appointments are becoming more popular because the technology to support telehealth has evolved. Receiving healthcare online can significantly simplify the process while ensuring that patients continue to get the appropriate care level, whether for a bacterial infection or any other issue. 

These are some of the benefits offered by online appointments:

  • Easy to use: You can have contact with a medical professional from the comfort of your home, without needing to face travel and crowded waiting rooms. All you need is a stable internet connection and a computer or a smartphone.
  • Increased access: Online appointments aren't as restricted by time and space quotas as in-person ones. This allows for extended access to reach patients who can't usually make it to see their doctors as easily as others.
  • Better quality: Due to fewer restrictions on time, patients can get more time with their doctors, and they can receive more in-depth care as a result. Online doctors have to take their time exploring symptoms, which significantly benefits a mutual understanding between doctor and patient.
  • Preventing contagion: Online appointments are a great way to control infectious diseases that don't present severe patient symptoms, such as the flu. This can contain potential spreads and prevent contamination in waiting rooms.
  • Support from relatives: If you are comfortable with receiving assistance from a family member during an online appointment, this can help with feeling calmer and with getting support. You can even have a family member or a friend in the video call with you and the doctor, as online appointments eliminate the need for proximity.

And What About the Drawbacks?

Despite its constant progress, online medical appointments don't offer full coverage when it comes to healthcare. Here are some of the main drawbacks it faces:

  • Availability: Although internet access has become an essential part of society, not everyone has it. This can cut off potential patients from the service, even though these are usually the ones most likely to benefit from it.
  • Limitations: Online doctors can offer plenty of treatments, but they can't do it all. For any in-depth investigations, patients still have to be referred to in-person appointments for examinations, blood tests, and imaging. 
  • Cost: The infrastructure and equipment needed for telehealth can be exorbitant for smaller healthcare facilities, especially if they require upgrades.
  • Regulations: It's harder to enforce regulations in online appointments, especially as they can vary significantly from state to state and can be quite different from those affecting in-person healthcare.
  • Training: Medical professionals will have to receive further training to provide a good standard of healthcare online, especially by adhering to all regulations that affect online spaces differently, such as data protection.

How Telehealth Works in Connecticut

Online healthcare appointments can vary greatly between states due to regulation and legislation being different across state borders. In Connecticut, a higher degree of flexibility has been awarded to telehealth until spring 2021. This allows for more coverage and more freedom in what can be treated through online appointments. 

The state's legislation extends only to providers that have qualified for the service, but there are plenty of options. Connecticut is one of the states that allow prescriptions to be made based only on information received during video calls in online appointments. 

The state of Connecticut has some understanding with insurance providers to cover some parts of telehealth, but you should always check to make sure that what you need is on the list. The services covered can differ a great deal between insurance providers, especially between state and private ones. 

Connecticut has parity laws that allow telehealth to be covered by private insurance, but there are several restrictions on this coverage. Nevertheless, telehealth in the state has enjoyed great progress, especially in 2020, when it managed to reach numerous patients in need of healthcare but unable to get in-person appointments. There are also rules when it comes to Medicaid in Connecticut.


Online medical providers such as doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants can prescribe antibiotics during telehealth appointments only if they decide it is the best treatment for the patient's symptoms due to their toll on the system. They can only be prescribed for bacterial infections and strictly for limited periods.

Online appointments now have a wider reach, but they can be limited when requiring an in-depth exploration of patients' ailments. Telehealth can vary in what it offers from state to state, but online doctors can prescribe treatments for most of them. So if your illness requires an antibiotic, having a virtual medical visit is an appropriate course of action.

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