Inappropriate antibiotic prescribing common for acute pancreatitis, study finds

Antibiotics are often misused to prevent or treat acute pancreatitis, even though international treatment guidelines indicate antibiotics should only be used when patients develop an infection, according to a study published in Pancreatology.

Here are three things to know:

1. For the study, researchers in the United Kingdom collected data from The National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death to see how physicians managed acute pancreatitis cases. Researchers looked at data for 712 adult patients diagnosed with acute pancreatitis admitted to hospitals in England and Wales between January to June 2014. Peer-reviewed questionnaires were the main method of collecting data.

2. Researchers found 62 percent of patients received antibiotics, representing 891 separate prescriptions and 23 clinical indications. Forty-one percent of patients received a second course of antibiotics and 24 percent received a third course, which was the maximum amount.  

3. Researchers also investigated what the antibiotics were prescribed for. The first and third most common reason for prescribing a first and third course of antibiotics was "unspecified." The most common reason for a second course of antibiotics was sepsis. About 19 percent of antibiotic indications were deemed inappropriate by clinicians, and 18 percent were deemed inappropriate by case reviewers. The researchers concluded inappropriate use of antibiotics for acute pancreatitis is common, urging healthcare providers to ensure antimicrobial policies are put in place to better consider antimicrobial stewardship.

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