Johns Hopkins study: 1 in 5 patients harmed by antibiotics

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Question: What is the likelihood of developing an antibiotic-associated adverse drug event (ADE) for a hospitalized patient receiving antibiotic therapy?

Answer: 1 in 5 patients experienced at least one antibiotic-associated ADE.

Researchers looked at the medical records of 1488 adult inpatients at Johns Hopkins Hospital & found a total of 324 ADEs overall. The most common one’s were gastrointestinal, renal, and hematologic abnormalities, accounting for 78 (42%), 45 (24%), and 28 (15%) 30-day ADEs, respectively. Of those, 186 (57%) happened within 30 days, and 138 occurred within 90 days. Of the 138 ADEs occurring within 90 days, 54 (39%) were cases of the life-threatening Clostridium Difficile Infection, and 84 (61%) were Multi-Drug Resistant Organism infections, such as MRSA.

The researchers suggest the 1 in 5 figure is probably an underestimate because the study did not include patients seeking out-of-network care or those receiving prolonged or inappropriately broad antibiotic therapy.

The authors didn’t say this, but keep in mind that the study was done at Johns Hopkins – perennially ranked as one of the best hospitals on the planet.

Conclusion: “Although antibiotics may play a critical role when used appropriately, our findings underscore the importance of judicious antibiotic prescribing to reduce the harm that can result from antibiotic-associated ADEs,” said one researcher.

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