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Pneumonia antibiotics often ineffective, study finds

May 23, 2017
by Nicole Stempak, Senior Editor
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Nearly one in four adults with pneumonia did not respond to antibiotic treatment.

Twenty-two percent of patients needed to refill prescriptions, switch antibiotics, hospitalization or emergency room evaluation within 30 days of initial prescription, according to a new study presented at the 2017 American Thoracic Society International Conference.

“Our findings suggest that the community-acquired pneumonia treatment guidelines should be updated with more robust data on risk factors for clinical failure,” said lead author James A. McKinnell, MD, an LA BioMed lead researcher and infectious disease specialist in a press release. “Elderly patients are more vulnerable and should be treated more carefully, potentially with more aggressive antibiotic therapy.”

McKinnell and colleagues reviewed records of more than 250,000 patients who were treated in an outpatient setting between 2011 and 2015 with a single round of antibiotics for community-acquired pneumonia. They found substantial regional variations in treatment outcomes, which are not specifically addressed in the community-acquired pneumonia guidelines published in 2007 from the American Thoracic Society and the Infectious Disease Society of America.

Researchers also found thousands of patients who suffer from other conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancer or diabetes were not treated with combination antibiotic therapy or respiratory fluoroquinolone as recommended.

Additional antibiotic therapy increases the risk of antibiotic resistance and complications like C. difficile (C diff) infection, which can be life threatening, especially for older adults.

Pneumonia is the leading cause of death from infectious disease in the United States.

 

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