It is important for hospitals to stop giving 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 necessary for a longer time.
Why this is important:
Antibiotics are medicines to prevent and treat infections. While the likelihood of infection after surgery can be reduced by giving patients preventative antibiotics, taking these antibiotics for more than 24 hours after routine surgery is usually not necessary. It also can increase the risk of side effects such as stomach aches, serious types of diarrhea, and antibiotic resistance (when antibiotics are overused, they are not as effective). There are exceptions; for example, where the surgical site has been contaminated (the surgery is then not routine). Talk to your doctor if you have questions about how long you should take antibiotics after surgery.
The chart above shows the percentage of surgery patients whose preventative antibiotics were stopped within 24 hours after their surgery.