Hospital Benefits From Fewer Antibiotics

tcmwell.com

Hospitals usually prescribe antibiotics to save lives, but a Utah hospital has dramatically reduced the death rate among its patients by prescribing fewer of them.

Hospitals usually prescribe antibiotics to save lives, but a Utah hospital has dramatically reduced the death rate among its patients by prescribing fewer of them.

 

It is an experiment being watched closely by other hospitals not only because it is saving lives and money but also because it promises to help curb the hospital-acquired infections that cause 88,000 deaths a year in the United States.

Using a computerized  antibiotic assistant'' to advise doctors on which antibiotics to use and when to administer them, the LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City cut its use of antibiotics in half over the past five years.


During that period we have seen the mortality rate among patients taking antibiotics decline by more than 50 percent,'' University of Utah medical professor John Burke on Monday told the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta.

Burke said the 520-bed hospital's reduced use of antibiotics not only resulted in significantly lower costs per patient but went hand in hand with shorter stays in the intensive care unit and an overall reduction in the length of patients' hospital stays from 16 to 10 days.

Antibiotics 

Many doctors, especially those working in hospitals, have traditionally overprescribed antibiotics - often using them to prevent infections in patients undergoing surgery or using broad-spectrum  antibiotics of last resort'' in situations where another drug might be more effective.

Burke said the computerized ``assistant''   which provides bedside terminals for consultation  has made it possible for doctors to know more about patients' risk of infection before prescribing antibiotics, but also to determine which drugs are most closely associated with constantly changing patterns of resistance in the hospital.

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