Too Many Hospital Patients Go Home With Black-Box Antibiotics


While many hospitals are cutting back on the use of powerful, but potentially risky, antibiotics called fluoroquinolones, they are still sending patients home with prescriptions for these medications, say researchers at Michigan Medicine.

Fluoroquinolones are used to treat respiratory and urinary tract infections, among others. They include:

  • Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
  • Gemifloxacin (Factive)
  • Levofloxacin (Levaquin)
  • Moxifloxacin (Avelox)
  • Norfloxacin (Noroxin)
  • Floxacin (Floxin)

These drugs have an FDA-mandated black box warning because they can cause serious side effects, such as damage to tendons, muscles, joints, nerves, and the central nervous system, as well as life-threatening aortic aneurysm or aortic dissection (a tear in the wall of the aorta). The FDA warns that fluoroquinolones should not be used in people at risk for dangerous side effects, including those with a history of blood vessel blockages or aneurysms, high blood pressure, and the elderly.

For this study, the researchers examined discharge prescriptions for nearly 12,000 patients treated for pneumonia or urinary tract infection at 48 hospitals in Michigan hospitals over a 2-year period ending in 2017. They found that fluoroquinolones accounted for 42 percent of all antibiotics prescribed at hospital discharge and about one-third of patients in the study were given a fluoroquinolone prescription at the end of their hospital stay. While some of the hospitals had a system in place to carefully monitor fluoroquinolone prescribing for inpatients, they didn’t have such rules for outpatients.

Sourced from: Clinical Infectious Diseases