Early Days Desperation: Hospitals, Covid-19 Patients, and Antibiotics

Among COVID-19’s many casualties: A global focus on the growing dangers of antibiotic resistance.
 
Now, new research by the Pew Charitable Trusts shows the pandemic was not only soaking up global attention, it may have been increasing the risks for antibiotic resistance in its first 6 months. Why? Hospitals appeared to be over-prescribing antibiotics to COVID-19 patients.
 
The study reviewed electronic health records for 5,000 COVID-19 patients hospitalized February through July 2020.

Key Takeaways: 

  • 52% of COVID-19 hospital admissions “led to one or more antibiotics being given to patients.”
  • In 96% of admissions in which an antibiotic was prescribed, it appears they were given to “patients prior to confirmation of a bacterial infection.”
  • In 36% of admissions, multiple antibiotics were prescribed.

Key Reminder: COVID-19 is caused by a virus.

Background: In the early days of the pandemic, doctors confronting patients with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing were often given antibiotics in the absence of confirmed effective treatments, NPR Shots reports.

Later in 2020, doctors recognized antibiotics weren’t useful for most COVID-19 patients.

Numbers Check: Almost 3 million Americans are infected with a drug-resistant microbe and more than 35,000 die from antibiotic-resistant infections each year, per the CDC

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