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Medical News
April 13, 1964

Prophylactic Antibiotics May Do More Harm Than Good

JAMA. 1964;188(2):39. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03060280117059

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The use of prophylactic antibiotics in surgical patients may do more harm than good, according to the Dean of College of Medicine of the University of Arizona, Tucson.

Merlin K. Du Val, MD, addressing the New Orleans sectional meeting of the American College of Surgeons in March, reported that, in a series of 1,000 consecutive operated patients, more wounds became infected when antibiotics were given than when they were not.

"This indicates emphatically that the use of the antibiotic, irrespective of reason, did not prevent the appearance of wound infections," Du Val declared.

The 1,000 patients in the study included 533 men and 467 women who ranged in age from newborn to 80 years, with one third over 60. A wide variety of general surgical operations were involved, Du Val said.

Whether or not a patient received antibiotics depended on the discretion of the operating surgeon. Preoperative antibiotics were administered in

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