Overusing antibiotics in pneumonia patients doesn't lower adverse outcomes, study finds

A 43-hospital study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that nearly 68 percent of pneumonia patients received excess antibiotic therapy and those extra treatments failed to lower adverse outcomes.

Researchers examined data from hospitals in the Michigan Hospital Medicine Safety Consortium. They studied 6,481 general care patients with pneumonia and calculated the rate of excess days of antibiotic treatment by subtracting the shortest effective treatment duration for each patient from the actual duration of antibiotic treatment.

Researchers found that 67.8 percent of the patients received excess antibiotic therapy.

Patients were more likely to receive excess antibiotic therapy if:

• They had respiratory cultures or nonculture diagnostic testing
• They had a longer stay
• They received a high-risk antibiotic in the prior 90 days
• They had community-acquired pneumonia
• They did not have a total antibiotic treatment duration documented at discharge

Excess antibiotic therapy was not linked to lower rates of any adverse outcomes, including death, readmission, emergency department visit or Clostridioides difficile infection, the study found.

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