Little children are placebo happy. If they have a small scratch, bump, or bruise that they can see they want a band-aid and a kiss. As soon as the band-aid is applied, the kiss given, they suddenly feel an instantaneous relief. If they’ve received medicine in the past for an illness they want something for their cough – or just to be like mommy and daddy. As soon as they get it, they’re happy. They're cured.
Patients are a lot like little children - at least the ones who use primary care services or the ER for minor complaints and an overt sense of entitlement. If you tell them that they’re going to be OK and try to send them along their way they get all upset.
“What, you’re not giving me an antibiotic? But I WASTED $25 for my stupid copayment! I didn’t come here to waste my money!” (as if taking up a professionals time and utilizing many years of education and training could be considered a "waste")
So, some doctors give in and prescribe the antibiotic, only reinforcing the patient’s misplaced sense of entitlement. Unlike a band-aid or kiss, this practice is dangerous as every drug has side effects and also increases resistance of normal residential bacteria.
Essentially the patient has thrown an adult temper tantrum, demanding to receive their placebo. Hell, we could give them sugar water with red food coloring and call it an antibiotic and they’d swear that they only get better with drugs.
In fact, my grandmother once told me about one of her friends who will purchase a large bottle of penicillin whenever they travel to Mexico. He then uses them with every subsequent cold he gets. I can't even begin to describe how irresponsible that practice is - I'm surprised he hasn't gotten a severe infection yet. But I'm sure he believes he improves only as a direct result of the antibiotics he takes and thinks his doctor's an idiot.