What to know if you’ve been prescribed an antibiotic in the hospital
You or your loved one may need antibiotics to help treat or prevent an infection, like before surgery. Antibiotics are critical in treating a number of common infections like pneumonia but should be used properly to avoid side effects and resistance.
- Your healthcare team might take samples, from blood, urine or other areas, to test for bacteria. These will help determine if you need an antibiotic and if so, which one will work best.
- After a few days of treatment, your antibiotics may change or stop.
- You may start an antibiotic in the hospital while tests are being done. If your results show a different antibiotic would work better to treat your infection, your antibiotic will change.
- Antibiotic therapy may be reviewed 48-72 hours after it’s started based on your condition and lab results. Antibiotic orders may be changed or stopped as needed.
- In some cases, no antibiotic may be needed at all for treatment. We may find out you don’t have an infection or that the antibiotic won’t work against your infection. Taking antibiotics when not needed may cause side effects that could harmful to your health.
Please let your doctor know if you have allergies to the medication when you’re admitted to the hospital.
Antibiotics may cause common side effects including:
- Yeast Infections
Clostridioides difficile infection (C. diff)
The most common serious side effect is Clostridioides difficile infection (C. diff). Diarrhea caused by C. diff can lead to severe colon damage and even death, but can be easily recognized and treated quickly. Let your healthcare team know if you have diarrhea after taking antibiotics. The risk of diarrhea can last up to months, even after the antibiotic is stopped. Please tell your doctor if you still have diarrhea after the antibiotic is stopped.
Please ask your healthcare team any questions you may have about your antibiotic treatment.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). You’ve Been Prescribed an Antibiotic in the Hospital for an Infection [Brochure]. Author.