Health Questions and Answers

Answer: What about antibiotics? Should everyone with a fever get antibiotics?

Answer:

Absolutely not. Antibiotic use should be based on the patient’s specific presentation and diagnosis after a thorough history and physical examination and directed laboratory and ancillary tests. Most clinicians advocate giving appropriate antibiotics immediately to any patient who appears toxic or has suspected bacterial meningitis, without delaying for cultures. Other patients who should be considered for early antibiotics are immunocompromised patients (e.g., neutropenic patients, transplant patients, AIDS patients) and elderly patients.

Reference: Plaisance KI, Mackowiak PA: Antipyretic therapy: Physiologic rationale,diagnostic implications, and clinical consequences. Arch Intern Med 160:449-456, 2000.

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