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Fluoroquinolone antibiotics: Potency demands proper prescribing

The class of antibiotic medications called fluoroquinolones serves an important role in the drug arsenal against serious illnesses and infections, with such drugs standing ready as the big guns in a second-line defense aimed at killing off life-threatening infections such as hospital-acquired pneumonia.

Unfortunately, there is a growing problem associated with the drugs, say a number of medical researchers and medical bodies, namely this: Too many doctors are prescribing them inappropriately and without much thought for the serious side effects they can produce in patients.

Doctors at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have noted that physicians prescribe fluoroquinolones with undue frequency as a "one size fits all" remedy for ailments. One noted pharmacological epidemiologist says that the potent antibiotics are too casually prescribed "by lazy doctors who are trying to kill a fly with an automatic weapon."

Notably bad things happen when that occurs, with medication errors resulting in serious personal injury to many patients. Uncalled for use of drugs such as Cipro, Levaquin and Avelox -- the most commonly known of the fluoroquinolones -- has resulted in patient injuries that have in turn engendered thousands of medical malpractice lawsuits contending that the drugs were improperly prescribed and the common adverse reactions understated.

Fluoroquinolones are flatly not to be prescribed as first-line drug choices against common conditions like bronchitis and sinusitis, or as a defense against viruses, which are not even treatable by antibiotics.

Yet that is precisely what they are commonly prescribed for, with, often, dual negative outcomes. First, inappropriate use of such drugs can render them less than effective the second time around, when they are really needed in a dire health situation. Second, the side effects associated with fluoroquinolones are widespread and can be quite debilitating. They include muscle, visual and renal-system problems, as well as many reported reactions to the central nervous and gastrointestinal systems.

The bottom line that is stressed by medical experts concerning fluoroquinolones is that they are centrally important antibiotics with a potency that demands their appropriate use and a solid understanding of their potential side effects in users.

Source: New York Times, "Popular antibiotics may carry serious side effects," Jane E. Brody, Sept. 10, 2012

  • Personal injury in the medical sphere can result from a diverse and wide-ranging number of causes, including failure to properly diagnose, surgical error, facility-acquired infection or, as noted in this blog post, medication error. For information on the focused and rigorous representation we bring on behalf of clients injured through hospital negligence or medical malpractice, please visit our Northern New Jersey Medical Malpractice page.

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