Antibiotics: Questions to ask

Last updated: Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The types of clinical problem you will encounter involving antibiotics are very diverse. So it's impossible to give you comprehensive guidance for every eventuality. However when reviewing an antibiotic prescribed to treat an infection you should be asking yourself the following questions:

The Patient
  • How old is the patient? 
  • What infection is being treated? 
  • What is their past medical history? 
  • Do they have any special considerations such as impaired renal or liver function, are they pregnant or breastfeeding? 
  • How much do they weigh? 
  • Do they have any allergies? 
  • Do they take any other medicines? 

The Medicine
  • Is the prescription in line with any local/national guidelines? 
  • Who has recommended and/or initiated treatment? 
  • What is the spectrum of the antibiotic? 
  • Is it licensed to treat the patient’s infection? 
  • What about risk factors for drug resistance? 
  • Is the dose, route and duration appropriate? 
  • What monitoring is required? 
  • Who will administer the medicine? 
  • Are there any special administration considerations?

Going Forward
  • Remember the 5 antimicrobial decisions – is there evidence of a plan to review the prescription appropriately? 

Depending upon where you are working, the answers to some of these questions may not be easily available. However you should always be able to satisfy yourself that the prescription is clinically appropriate and safe.