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About Half of All U.S. Hospital Patients Receive Antibiotics

About half of those patients received two or more antibiotics

About Half of All U.S. Hospital Patients Receive Antibiotics

TUESDAY, Oct. 7, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- About half of all U.S. hospital patients receive antibiotics, and these drugs are commonly the ones more likely to promote the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to a new study, led by researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and published in the Oct. 8 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a theme issue on infectious disease. The CDC also funded the study.

The researchers identified how many of 11,282 patients received antibiotics on a given day at one of 183 hospitals throughout the United States in 2011. They found that 50 percent of these patients got at least one antibiotic, and about half of those patients received two or more antibiotics.

The most common reasons for the antibiotics were lower respiratory tract infections, followed by urinary tract infections and skin or soft tissue infections. Of the patients, 79.5 percent received antibiotics to treat infections, and 19.0 percent received them to reduce the risk of infection during surgeries.

Shelley Magill, M.D., of the CDC's Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, was particularly concerned to see that broad-spectrum drugs and drugs that treat resistant bacteria were often used for patients outside of intensive care units and for community-onset infections -- not the most critically ill patients. "Antimicrobial drugs are truly precious resources that have saved so many lives over the years. We need to use them judiciously if we are to preserve their effectiveness for future generations," Magill told HealthDay.

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