A way to get patients off antibiotics sooner

When a person gets sick it’s common for a doctor to prescribe an antibiotic, a medication that kicks an infection out of the body. 

Patients take multiple pills a day for an extended period of time to bring their body back to normal, but now some doctors believe there is a way to cut back on the length of time a patient stays on antibiotics.

Doctors want to learn more about a chemical produced in everyone’s body that rises and falls when an infection is present. When this chemical, known as procalcitonin or PCT, is high the infection is also at its height, as it lowers so does the severity of the infection.

“Infection is a common and expensive complication of critical illness and we’re trying to find ways to improve the outcomes of sick, elderly patients and, at the same time, reduce health care costs,” says Daren Heyland, a professor of Medicine at Queen’s, director of the Clinical Evaluation Research Unit at Kingston General Hospital, and scientific director of the Technology Evaluation in the Elderly Network.

The longer a patient is on an antibiotic the more likely they are to build up an immunity to it which can render the antibiotic useless, all the more reason why doctors would like to be able to better control the amount of antibiotics given to patients.

On average doctors believe this new measuring system could reduce antibiotic use by two days and it could cut health care costs by $470 per patient.

“This study is an example of the kind of technology evaluation that is so important to do, to inform clinicians and health care decision makers how to achieve best patient outcomes with the least costs,” adds Dr. Johnson.

The findings of this study were recently published in Critical Care Medicine.

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