An analysis today of patients treated for community-onset pneumonia has found that more than two-thirds receive antibiotics for longer than necessary, researchers reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine. More than 90% of the excess antibiotics were prescribed at discharge.

The analysis, conducted by researchers with the University of Michigan, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and elsewhere, also found that while excess antibiotic treatment was not associated with better outcomes in the patients, it was linked to increased risk of adverse events.

The findings add to a growing body of literature that suggests that community-onset pneumonia is being overtreated by clinicians, that shorter antibiotics courses are just as effective as longer ones, and that longer antibiotic treatment is both unnecessary and potentially harmful. The study’s authors say they hope it encourages hospitals to rethink how they’re treating pneumonia patients.

“What we’re hoping this [study] shows is that it really is not only safe to do short-course therapy, but it’s actually better for patients,” lead study author Valerie Vaughn, MD, a hospitalist at the University of Michigan’s academic medical center, told CIDRAP News.

Results no surprise

Credit: iStock, Fahroni

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