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Prophylactic Postoperative Antibiotics:  A Controlled Study of 1,007 Cases

JAMES BARNES, M.D.; WILLIAM G. PACE, M.D.; DAVID S. TRUMP, M.D.; EDWIN H. ELLISON, M.D.
AMA Arch Surg. 1959;79(2):190-196. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1959.04320080026004.
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The value of postoperative prophylactic antibiotics in general surgery has long been debated. At the time this study was undertaken, sufficient evidence to condemn or justify such use of antibiotics had not been presented. In a complete review of the literature, several studies concerning this problem were found. McKittrick and, more recently, Sanchez-Ubeda published work suggesting that prophylactic postoperative antibiotics do not diminish the incidence of postoperative infections in general surgical patients. Appleton and Wisebrun in urology and Tachdjian and Compere in orthopedics reached similar conclusions. The present investigation studied the effect of routinely administered antibiotics on the postoperative course of general surgical patients. To assure the validity of the findings, it was necessary to meet two criteria. The first was that the number of patients be significantly large. The second was that the study be adequately controlled.

Materials and Methods  All major operative cases of the general surgical service

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