Redundant, Unnecessary Antibiotics Drive Up Infection Risks, Costs: Study

Hospitals throughout the country appear to be increasingly treating illnesses with several different types of antibiotics, which may increase individuals’ risk of future infection, according to the findings of new research. 

In a study published on Wednesday in the medical journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, researchers published findings indicating that redundant antibiotic use in hospitals not only contributed to antibiotic resistance, but also increases healthcare costs across the country.

The research involved a retrospective analysis of inpatient hospital data from more than 500 hospitals in the United States, including data for patients discharged between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2011.

Did You Know?

Millions of Philips CPAP Machines Recalled

Philips DreamStation, CPAP and BiPAP machines sold in recent years may pose a risk of cancer, lung damage and other injuries.

Learn More

Redundant antibiotic use, or use of more than one type of antibiotics at a time to treat a patient, was determined by pharmacy records. Patients who used multiple antibiotics for two or more consecutive days were included.

“Our study suggests that there may be pervasive use of redundant antimicrobial therapy within US hospitals,” said study authors.

Researchers found nearly 80% of the hospitals studied used overlapping antibiotic dose combinations. This represents more than 32,000 cases.

Unnecessary Antibiotic Risks

The study revealed doctors were prescribing unnecessary multiple doses of different antibiotics for several days, when only one type of antibiotic would have effectively treated the illness.

Dr. Arjun Srinivasan, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and co-author of the study, speculates this may happen when doctors are presented with unusual illnesses which they are unable to diagnose immediately.

When faced with a very ill and feverish patient, doctors will often give them multiple antibiotics to be safe, but then fail to take them off the unnecessary ones when a definitive diagnosis is received.

Most patients were still on multiple antibiotics for more than two days. Researchers tested for 23 different antibiotic combinations which should rarely be used together. Metronidazole and piperacillintazobactam accounted for more than half of all redundant cases.

Researchers found antibiotic overuse translated to nearly 150,000 days and contributes to resistance to antibiotics. This equates to more than $12 million in avoidable healthcare costs.

This is the first study of this kind to focus on antibiotic redundancy in the hospital, the researchers claim. Prior studies have focused on antibiotic prescriptions at doctors’ offices for viruses which cannot be treated by antibiotics.

A Harvard Medical School study published last year revealed doctors in the U.S. prescribe antibiotics six out of every 10 times a patient complains of a sore throat. Typically only one out of every 10 cases requires antibiotic treatment.

Overuse in both situations can contribute to the creation of treatment resistant bacteria, not only making it more difficult to treat illness in the future with antibiotics, but putting the public at risk. When bacteria is exposed to antibiotics when unnecessary, the bacteria can adapt creating resistance to new generations.


"*" indicates required fields

Share Your Comments

I authorize the above comments be posted on this page*

Have Your Comments Reviewed by a Lawyer

Provide additional contact information if you want an attorney to review your comments and contact you about a potential case. This information will not be published.

NOTE: Providing information for review by an attorney does not form an attorney-client relationship.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

More Top Stories

Suboxone Settlements Failed to Compensate Users Left With Tooth Decay or Tooth loss
Suboxone Settlements Failed to Compensate Users Left With Tooth Decay or Tooth loss (Posted today)

Although Suboxone settlements have been paid to resolve antitrust violations, users who suffered damages due to tooth decay from Suboxone film must pursue individual product liability lawsuits

Bard 3DMax Hernia Mesh Lawsuit Set for Trial To Begin in April 2024
Bard 3DMax Hernia Mesh Lawsuit Set for Trial To Begin in April 2024 (Posted yesterday)

With thousands of Bard hernia mesh lawsuits pending in the federal court system, a fourth bellwether trial will be held in the spring, involving allegations that defects with Bard 3DMax caused painful and permanent injuries.