An Antibiotic Loophole?

A new study performed by the University of Michigan shows that while some hospitals are working to reduce antibiotic prescriptions made in-house—specifically, prescriptions for fluoroquinolones—those same hospitals were twice as likely to discharge patients with one of the antibiotics in that same group.

Hospitals across the nation are increasingly working to reduce the rate that risky antibiotics are prescribed to patients. Fluoroquinolones have been linked to the rise of drug-resistant organisms, Achilles tendon ruptures, low blood sugar in diabetic patients, and mental health complications. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has even released warnings about the prescription of fluoroquinolones, indicating that they should not be prescribed to patients who are elderly, have high blood pressure, or are at risk for aneurysms.

The researchers used data from the Michigan Hospital Medicine Safety Consortium to look at patients treated for a urinary tract infection (UTI) or pneumonia over a two-year period.

One-third of the patients received a fluoroquinolone prescription at discharge. Across all 48 hospitals in the study, discharge-related prescriptions represented two-thirds of the entire fluoroquinolone supply that was prescribed to nearly 12,000 patients (treated for a UTI or pneumonia).

The study highlights the focus that healthcare providers need to place on selecting the best antibiotic for each patient, especially in hospitals that have already committed to reducing these types of prescriptions.

The study’s findings were reported in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

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