UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Pharmacology & Therapeutics

Title: Is that IV antibiotic dose before ED discharge really necessary?

Keywords: antibiotic, IV, diarrhea (PubMed Search)

Posted: 11/25/2014 by Bryan Hayes, PharmD (Emailed: 12/6/2014) (Updated: 12/6/2014)
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Many of the oral antibiotics prescribed in the ED have good bioavailability. So, a one-time IV dose before discharge generally won't provide much benefit.

In fact, a new prospective study found that a one-time IV antibiotic dose before ED discharge was associated with higher rates of antibiotic-associated diarrhea and Clostridium difficile infection. [1] One-time doses of vancomycin for SSTI before ED discharge are also not recommended (see Academic Life in EM post).

Bottom Line

Though there are a few exceptions, if a patient has a working gut, an IV dose of antibiotics before ED discharge is generally not recommended and may cause increased adverse effects. An oral dose is just fine. 


  1. Haran JP, et al. Factors influencing the development of antibiotic associated diarrhea in ED discharged patients home: risk of administering IV antibiotics. Am J Emerg Med 2014;32(10):1195-9. [PMID 25149599]

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