Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Home Antibiotic Therapy

Usually, antibiotics are given by mouth, and the length of treatment does not cause hardship. However, some infections—such as those involving bone (osteomyelitis) or the heart (endocarditis)—require antibiotics to be given intravenously for a long time, often 4 to 6 weeks. If people have no other conditions that need treatment in the hospital and are feeling relatively well, intravenous (IV) antibiotics may be given at home. When antibiotics have to be given a long time, the short IV catheters that are inserted into a small vein in the arm or hand (such as are used in most routine hospital procedures) may not be desirable. These catheters last only up to 3 days. Instead, a special type of IV catheter may be inserted into a large central vein, usually in the neck or chest.

Some devices for infusing antibiotics are simple enough that people and their family members can learn to operate them on their own. In other cases, a visiting nurse must come to the home to give each dose. In either situation, people are carefully supervised to make sure the antibiotic is being given correctly and to watch for possible complications and side effects.

If antibiotics are given at home through an IV catheter, the risk of developing an infection at the site where the catheter is inserted and in the bloodstream is increased. Pain, redness, and pus at the catheter insertion site or chills and fever (even without problems at the insertion site) may indicate a catheter-related infection.