When To Stop Course of Antibiotics? Still Mostly a Judgment Call

Doctors for years have been telling patients to finish the entire prescription of antibiotics, but a study in BMJ by infectious disease experts say that advice is often wrong and can contribute to antibiotic resistance. The study states that “the idea that stopping antibiotic treatment early encourages antibiotic resistance is not supported by evidence, while taking antibiotics for longer than necessary increases the risk of resistance.”

The authors note that for some diseases, such as pneumonia, shorter dosages of antibiotics are just as effective as longer ones.

Martin Llewelyn, a professor of infectious diseases at Brighton and Sussex Medical School in England, tells the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that “we are challenging this now because antibiotic resistance is such an enormous issue.” He adds though, that, “we’re not suggesting stopping antibiotics when you feel better is necessarily the right thing to do across the board.”

Where does that leave us? Lauri Hicks, director of the office of antibiotics stewardship at CMS, says that the agency changed its recommendation about a year ago, saying that providers should direct antibiotic use. It’s the doctor’s call, in other words.

“We’re trying to find the sweet spot,” Hicks tells the WSJ. “We’re trying to find the shortest length of therapy that clears the infection without recurrence.”

Source: Wall Street Journal