Advantages to shorter antibiotic courses include improved compliance and decreased rates of resistance. The usual duration of antibiotic therapy is three to seven days, depending upon the response to therapy.3
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As the patient has no significant comorbidities or risk factors, and meets criteria for a simple Anthonisen Type I exacerbation (increased dyspnea, sputum, and sputum purulence), antibiotic therapy with trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole is initiated on admission, in addition to the previously started steroid and bronchodilator treatments. The patient’s clinical status improves, and he is discharged on hospital Day 3 with a prescription to complete a five-day course of antibiotics.
Antibiotic therapy is effective in select AECOPD patients, with maximal benefits obtained when the decision to treat is based on careful consideration of characteristic clinical symptoms and severity of illness. Choice and duration of antibiotics should follow likely bacterial causes and current guidelines.
Dr. Cunningham is an assistant professor of internal medicine and academic hospitalist in the section of hospital medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn. Dr. LaBrin is assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics and an academic hospitalist at Vanderbilt. Dr. Markley is a clinical instructor and academic hospitalist at Vanderbilt.
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