Pneumonia patients may get too many antibiotics

Pneumonia sends many American adults to the hospital every year.

In a new study, researchers found that most pneumonia patients receive more antibiotics than they probably need.

The over-treatment mainly occur when patients head home from the hospital.

The research was led by a team from the University of Michigan.

In the new study, the team analyzed medical records of nearly 6,500 pneumonia patients treated at 43 Michigan hospitals.

They found that 93% of the overly long antibiotic prescriptions given to pneumonia patients were written at hospital discharge.

Hospitals varied widely in the percentage of their pneumonia patients who received too many antibiotics.

At some hospitals, less than 50 percent did, but at other hospitals nearly every patient did.

The team found that nearly a third of antibiotics were for fluoroquinolones, a powerful group of antibiotics that carry special risks of everything from fostering infections with “superbugs” to torn tendons and ruptured arteries.

Overdose of antibiotics can bring dangerous health risks.

The more antibiotics a patient received beyond the recommended doses, the higher the chance that they experienced problems related to the drugs, such as upset stomachs or yeast infections.

The finding shows that hospitals have a major opportunity to control antibiotic prescriptions written for departing pneumonia patients.

In addition, guidelines for prescribers should be clearer about how to calculate an appropriate duration based on a patient’s condition.

The team behind the study now is already working to help Michigan hospitals do that.

The lead author of the study is Valerie Vaughn, M.D., M.Sc., an assistant professor of internal medicine at U-M.

The study is published in the  Annals of Internal Medicine.

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