Antibiotics are medicines used to prevent, and treat, infections. It is important for a hospital to stop administering 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 needed for a longer time.
Why this is important:
While the likelihood of infection after surgery can be reduced by administering preventative antibiotics, taking these antibiotics is usually not necessary. Using antibiotics for more than 24 hours after routine surgery can increase the risk of side effects such as stomach aches, serious types of diarrhea, and antibiotic resistance (when antibiotics are used too much, they will not work effectively). There are exceptions; for example, where the surgical site has been contaminated (no longer routine surgery).
The chart above shows the percentage of surgery patients whose preventative antibiotics were stopped within 24 hours after surgery.
Talk to your doctor if you have questions about how long you should take antibiotics after surgery.