Patients with Staphylococcus aureus skin and soft tissue infections took an average of 57% of their antibiotic doses after being discharged from the hospital, a new study published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy reported. Researchers added that close to half of these patients acquired a new infection or needed additional treatment for the existing infection. 

Study authors from the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute measured antibiotic dosing by using medication containers fitted with electronic caps that documented when patients opened the pill container. This method allowed researchers to detect a large discrepancy in patient reports and electronic measurement. Patients had reported taking on average 96% of their prescribed medication, nearly double the 57% that was reported by the electronic caps. 

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The study included 188 patients who were hospitalized for S. aureus-associated skin and soft tissue infections of which complete records were obtained for 87 patients. Within one month of discharge, 40 patients required additional treatments that included incision and drainage or new antibiotics. Higher rates of non-adherence to antibiotic treatments were seen in patients who were prescribed more than 1 antibiotic, those who did not visit the same healthcare provider for follow-up visits or those who felt they did not have a regular healthcare provider.

Findings from the study highlight the importance in using “better methods to have patients receive antibiotics for skin infections, such as counseling them on the importance of adhering to the medication dosing or by using newer antibiotics that require only once-weekly dosing,” concluded Loren G. Miller, MD, MPH, the study’s corresponding author. 

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