A large new study of patients with sepsis has found that broad-spectrum antibiotics are frequently administered to patients not infected with antibiotic-resistant pathogens, and are associated with higher mortality in these patients. The study, published last week in JAMA Network Open, looked at data on more than 17,000 culture-positive community-onset sepsis patients in US hospitals and found that more than two-thirds received antibiotics targeting drug-resistant organisms like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Yet only in one in eight sepsis patients had resistant gram-positive or gram-negative organisms, respectively. Treatment with unnecessary broad-spectrum antibiotics was associated with a 22% increase in mortality. The study also found that undertreatment with antibiotics that didn’t cover the infecting pathogen was associated with higher mortality. The authors of the study say the findings highlight the need for more judicious use of broad-spectrum antibiotics in sepsis treatment and for better tests to rapidly identify resistant organisms.