Intravenous Antibiotic Treatment at Home

Antibiotics are agents the doctors use to kill the bugs responsible for infections. Since the discovery of the first antibiotic by Alexander Fleming the field of medicine made enormous accomplishments in the treatment of infections. There are some types of severe infections which cannot be treated by medicines taken by mouth instead these antibiotics are injected inside the veins of the patient (Grenan et al, 2019). This not only allows some of the new antibiotics which cannot be absorbed in the digestion system to reach inside the body and circulatory system of the body but also allows to act quickly to alleviate the severity of the infection. This route of antibiotics or intravenous antibiotics are usually given in a hospital under the supervision of doctors and nurses but sometimes they are given at home or some other setting away from the hospital this is known as Outpatient parenteral anti-infective therapy or OPAT (Krah and Hersh, 2019).

If we compare the antibiotic treatment at home and at the hospital what are the differences? Does either of the two methods have advantages over the other? These questioned can be answered by research. According to research conducted by Bernstein in 1991 antibiotic treatment at home has many advantages. The research concludes that intravenous treatment with antibiotics at home is not only safe, very effective, and cost-efficient (Berstien, 1991). Another research stands out as it reveals that there is no difference in the antibiotic-associated complication both when given intravenously at home or at the hospital (Antoniskis et al, 1978). This research also concluded that the costs of the treatment at home were almost four times less as compared to the costs of the same treatment at the hospital (Antoniskis et al, 1978). The instances of intravenous catheter site infection were also found to be the same in both of the treatments (Antoniskis et al, 1978)

Intravenous antibiotic treatment at home can be associated with occasional side effects. One should have a good understanding of the common side effects and risks so that he or she can do the early management of it and home and to know at what time doctor’s consult and home nurse intervention is needed. The most common risks which are encountered by people using antibiotics treatment at home include blood clots, infections, and catheter or venous blockages. One should immediately get hospital admission or contact the doctor if he or she sees the following signs

  • Red lines or streaks on the skin
  • Red hot or warm skin
  • Swollen skin at the catheter site or anywhere else
  • Leakage of fluid at the catheter site.

Many individuals who are admitted in the hospital for the treatment of serious infections for which they need intensive intravenous antibiotic therapy are not prohibited for home treatment. These people can receive antibiotic therapy at home after a short period of treatment and stabilization of medical issues in the hospital. Patients suffering from infective endocarditis or osteomyelitis were selected for this study conducted by Kind et al in 1979. Patients were given workshops and training regarding antibiotics utilizing with the help of nurse teams giving intervenous access. Patients are directed to return to the hospital after two days to collect a new supply of antibiotics and have their intravenous catheter changed (Kind et al.,1979). This studed conluded with promising results. The hospital under study saved $1600 per patient. The patients on the other hand reported that this new method of treatment was very comfortable (Kind et al., 1979).

Me being a doctor will recommend my loved ones to use intravenous antibiotic therapy at home because patients are more comfortable at home and there is a substantial saving with each therapy course and they can also return to school or to work. They are able to resume normal daily living activities while receiving antibiotic therapy at home. The cost of antibiotic therapy at home was 45$ per patient but the patient receiving treatment at hospitals costs 140$ (Kind et al.,1979).

During 10 months, 25 patients aged 10 to 80 years were treated for 10 to 30 days with intravenous antibiotic therapy at home. Diseases that were treated include blastomycosis, joint and bone infection, staphylococcal bacteremia, actinomycosis, candidiasis pyelonephritis, and endocarditis (Stiver et al.,1978). At the beginning of training, patients self-dispensed drugs through a cannula or heparin lock which was regularly changed by a visiting health care provider or home care nurse. Antibiotics or drugs that were used included gentamicin, cephalosporins, penicillin G, cloxacillin, amphotericin B, and carbenicillin (Stiver et al.,1978).

Family and patient acceptance of the therapy was good, the treatment was therapeutically efficacious, side effects of antibiotic therapy at home were no different from those of patients treated in hospitals apart from the reduced prevalence of phlebitis cannula at home (Stiver et al.,1978).

Over the past 10 years, patients were receiving antibiotic therapy both at home, in the hospital, and in the outpatient setting. Intravenous chemotherapeutic and anti-infective agents, coagulation factor replacement and blood product, analgesics, positive inotropic drugs, and immunoglobulins have been effectively and safely administered at home (Williams et al.,1991). All of these methods provide a large number of attributes including protective inclusion and exclusion, the requirement for a consolidated team approach (pharmacists, physicians, nurses), an organized follow-up method, and increased rationality on the patient’s role for self-care (Williams et al.,1991).

In the United States, advancement in healthcare departments such as new devices for easy and effective intravenous access with organized self-care infusion service indicates that antibiotic treatment at home is both safe and economically efficient. This begs the need to authorize more patients to be able conveniently and appropriately use intravenous antibiotic therapy at home and outpatient setting (Williams et al.,1991).

Financial reimbursement for services like availability of trained staff and to legally deliver intravenous drugs are some issues for intravenous antibiotic therapy at home, in some countries, especially in Europe. Legal and structural issues may differ in different countries (Williams et al.,1997).

We conclude our discussion on intravenous antibiotic treatment by highlighting down the key points. The research completely busts the myths of making the intravenous treatment of antibiotics at home being unsafe and associated with serious side effects or infections. It is not only safe but effective and cost-efficient. One should know when to alert the emergency healthcare providers once he or she sees or identifies the signs of severe side effects which include red streaks on the skin, swelling skin, warm skin, or constant leakage at the site of the catheter. We conclude that with proper education and training, intravenous antibiotic treatment should be encouraged and promoted.