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CDC Research Finds Antibiotic Treatment Increases Sepsis Risk

New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that treatment with antibiotics can increase the risk of sepsis among patients.

The CDC research was presented last week at IDWeek, a joint annual meeting of the Infectious Disease Society of America, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of American, the HIV Medicine Association, and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society.

For the study, CDC researchers examined data from 2006 to 2010 on 12.7 million hospital stays in 516 facilities, including more than 18,000 stays that were linked with a sepsis admission within 90 days after discharge. The researchers examined three sets of drugs based on how likely they are to disrupt patients’ microbiome:

  • high-risk antibiotics, including third- and fourth-generation cephalosporins, flouroquinolones, lincosamides, beta-lactam/beta-lactamase inhiibitor combinations, oral vancomycin, and carbapenems;
  • low-risk antibiotics, including earlier generations of cephalosporins, tetracycline, and sulfa drugs; and
  • control antibiotics, such as penicillin.

The study found that treatment with high-risk antibiotics made sepsis 80 percent more likely compared with patients who were not treated with antibiotics. Meanwhile, sepsis risk increased twofold among patients who were treated with antibiotics for longer than 14 days, regardless of drug type, compared with patients who received shorter therapy, according to the study.

Contact Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at or 202.585.0127 with questions.


About the Author

Michelle Rosenfeld is manager of communications at America's Essential Hospitals.

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