Probiotic Use Spikes in Inpatient Hospital Care

Health care providers are proactively giving gastrointestinal patients probiotics as part of their inpatient hospital care.

Health care providers are proactively giving gastrointestinal patients probiotics as part of their inpatient hospital care.

A recent CDC study reports C. difficile (C. diff) is one of the most prevalent bacterium responsible for infections in the hospital.

According to study authors Sarah H. Yi, MD; John Jernigan, MD; and L. Clifford McDonald, MD, clinicians may be prescribing probiotics to help their C. diff patients, who often experience a disrupted or damaged microbiome.

The study showed between 2006 and 2012, probiotic use increased 2.9-fold among hospitals reporting annually. In 2012, the probiotics —saccharomyces and lactobacillus – were used in 2.6% of hospitalizations and 96% of 145 US hospitals with 1,976,167 discharges.

Despite inadequate evidence that probiotics are truly effective in restoring a healthy microbiome, the high prevalence of probiotic use may prove to be a significant step in considering this an effective C. diff treatment.

The authors concluded benefits of probiotics are still ambiguous and more research is necessary to further understand these products and provide guidance on their use in hospitals.