Experts have warned that new antibiotics used to tackle hospital superbugs can actually increase the risk of infection.
They warning comes after a study found the number of infections in patients given a new regime of drugs after certain surgeries was higher than among those on the old regime.
Of 709 patients undergoing a prostate cancer diagnosis operation, those given the new course of antibiotics to fight infections developed five times as many complications.
These included a number of cases of sepsis, in which bugs overwhelmed the blood, and one case of septic shock needing emergency treatment to prevent heart failure.
“Any alteration to existing departmental antibiotic policies should be linked to strong clinical evidence, because such changes may potentially result in significant ill health and potential harm, as well as the financial burden of treating new complications,” said researcher Professor David Neal.
Professor Neal’s team at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, found that after a urological procedure to diagnose prostate cancer, only 2.4 per cent of the 454 patients treated with the standard drugs – ciprofloxacin – developed an infective problem.
But 12.9 per cent given the new regime of prophylaxis with coamoxiclav and gentamicin developed an infection in the same period and twelve were admitted for complications – seven of whom suffered sepsis and one septic shock.
None of the patients on the original therapy had these very serious complications and re-introducing the original regime led to a fall in infective complications.
The findings are published in the British Journal of Urology International.