Powerful antibiotics may increase sepsis risk

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Sepsis is often a hard to spot but incredibly deadly problem for hospitals. Now new research suggests that certain antibiotics may increase a patient’s risk for the infection.

The study, which was sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and was presented this week at IDWeek 2016, found that hospital patients are 80 percent more likely to contract sepsis after taking certain “high-risk” antibiotics. This is likely because powerful antibiotics may also kill too many need bacteria in the body, making people more susceptible to sepsis and other deadly illnesses.

"There really is a tremendous disturbance in the healthy bacteria when we get an antibiotic that can have a significant downside," James Baggs, Ph.D., an epidemiologist for the CDC, tells MedPage Today.

The team gathered data on 12.7 million patient stays at 516 hospitals between 2006 and 2010, of which more than 18,000 were related to a sepsis readmission within 90 days of a previous stay.

The researchers also found that in addition to the risk associated with powerful antibiotics, patients with long courses of any antibiotic were also more likely to contract sepsis. The best preventive strategy, according to the researchers: antibiotic stewardship. Better care when prescribing is also a solution to reduce to the growth of medication-resistant superbugs, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

Baggs told MedPage Today that the study did have some limitations. The data came from an administrative database which could have misclassified information, he said, and the team could not account for antibiotic exposure outside the hospital.