Antibiotic prophylaxis to reduce respiratory tract infections and mortality in adults receiving intensive care

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A combination of topical and systemic prophylactic antibiotics reduces respiratory tract infections and overall mortality in adult patients receiving intensive care. Treatment based on the use of topical prophylaxis alone reduces respiratory infections but not mortality. The risk of resistance occurring as a negative consequence of antibiotic use was appropriately explored only in one trial, which did not show any such effect.

Pneumonia is an important cause of mortality in intensive care units (ICUs). The incidence of pneumonia in ICU patients ranges between 7% and 40%, and the crude mortality from ventilator-associated pneumonia may exceed 50%. Although not all deaths in patients with this form of pneumonia are directly attributable to pneumonia, it has been shown to contribute to mortality in ICUs independently of other factors that are also strongly associated with such deaths. This review assesses the effects of prophylactic antibiotic regimens, such as selective decontamination of the digestive tract, for the prevention of respiratory tract infections and overall mortality in adults receiving intensive care.

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