Repeated antibiotic use tied to higher hospitalization risk

Taking repeated courses of antibiotics could increase the risk of being admitted to a hospital due to infection, according to a study published in BMC Medicine.

United Kingdom-based researchers analyzed EHRs from two databases with information on primary care practices in England and Wales. They examined data for 1.8 million patients who were prescribed an antibiotic for an infection from 2000 through 2017. They only included patients with at least three years of information in the databases, according to the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.

They found that the patients frequently took repeated courses of antibiotics, averaging seven antibiotic prescription courses in three years. The incidence of hospitalization linked to an infection was highest within the first three days of beginning a course.

Hospitalization rates were similar among all patients soon after beginning a course, but the rates dropped "quickly and substantially" among patients with less previous antibiotic use, researchers said. But among patients with frequent prior antibiotic use, rates remaining elevated during the six months after an antibiotic course. Hospitalization risk was highest among those who had received nine or more antibiotic prescription courses in three years.

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