Unnecessary antibiotic prescribing increases risk of adverse drug events

Study reveals the importance of judicious antibiotic prescribing to reduce the harm that can result from antibiotic-associated adverse drug events.

Patient in hospital bed

Approximately 50% of hospitalised patients receive at least one antibiotic during their hospital stay. However, estimates of the incidence of antibiotic-associated adverse drug events (ADEs) is generally unavailable.

In a cohort study published in JAMA Internal Medicine
(online, 12 June 2017), data from 1,488 adult inpatients were examined for 30 days after antibiotic initiation for the development of antibiotic-associated ADEs, such as gastrointestinal, cardiac or neurologic events, and 90 days for the development of Clostridium difficile infection or new multidrug-resistant organism infections.

During that time, 20% of patients experienced at least one antibiotic-associated ADE. Furthermore, 20% of non-clinically indicated antibiotic regimens were associated with an ADE. Of the antibiotic-associated ADEs, 97% were considered clinically significant because of: new hospitalisations (3%); prolonged hospitalisations (24%); additional clinic or emergency department visits (9%); and additional laboratory tests, electrocardiograms or imaging (61%).

The findings highlight the importance of avoiding unnecessary antibiotic prescribing to reduce the potential harm from antibiotic-associated ADEs, the researchers conclude.


[1] Tamma P, Avdic E, Li D et al. Association of adverse events with antibiotic use in hospitalized patients. JAMA Intern Med 2017. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.1938

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, August 2017, Vol 9, No 8;9(8):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20203172

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