Antibiotics are medicines used to prevent, and treat, infections. It is important for a hospital to stop administering preventative antibiotics within 24
hours after surgery—to avoid side effects and other problems associated with antibiotic
use. For certain surgeries, however, antibiotics may be needed for a longer time.
Why this is important:
While the likelihood
of infection after surgery can be reduced by administering preventative antibiotics, taking these antibiotics is usually
not necessary. Using antibiotics for more than 24 hours after routine surgery can increase the risk of side effects such as stomach aches, serious
types of diarrhea, and antibiotic resistance (when antibiotics are used too much,
they will not work effectively). There are exceptions; for example, where the surgical
site has been contaminated (no longer routine surgery).
The chart above shows the percentage of surgery patients whose preventative antibiotics were stopped within 24 hours after surgery.
Talk to your doctor
if you have questions about how long you should take antibiotics after surgery.