According to the article, allergy to antibiotics sent about 140, 000 people to the emergency room (the researchers used a formula to extrapolate the number across the US). The seriousness of the allergy ranges from rash (78%) to more serious form of anaphylaxis. About 22% of the bad reactions were caused by errors and other factors. Most upper respiratory infections are not always caused by bacteria but viruses which would in turn render antibiotics useless. The sample size researchers used for the study was 63 US hospitals between 2004 and 2006 using the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-Cooperative Adverse Drug Event Surveillance.
The report details also include which classes of antibiotics were most troublesome: Penicillin and amoxicillin leads the pack (they are generally viewed as safe, effective and are dirt cheap), followed by cephalosporins (Keflex for example) and fluoroquinolones (Cipro for example). Incident reports for bad reactions raged from 15 to 44 years of age with infants accounting for 6.3 percent of ER visits (due probably to errors).
The conclusions presented in this article are of no surprise to me. Hopefully, this message will finally be delivered home to physicians in that they need to stop prescribing antibiotics to people who don’t need them. It’s not unusual to see more than a few doctors put refills on antibiotics like a Z-pak or amoxicillin prescription to use for later when the patient has that tingling in the throat or that coughing crud that won’t go away.
The article and it’s results will be published in September issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases