Considerations for the optimal management of antibiotic therapy in elderly patients

for the ESCMID Study Group for Infections in the Elderly (ESGIE)

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objectives: To maximise efficacy and minimise toxicity, special considerations are required for antibiotic prescription in elderly patients. This review aims to provide practical suggestions for the optimal management of antibiotic therapy in elderly patients. Methods: This was a narrative review. A literature search of published articles in the last 15 years on antibiotics and elderly patients was performed using the Cochrane Library and PubMed electronic databases. The three priority areas were identified: (i) pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics (PK/PD) for optimising dosage regimens and route of administration; (ii) antibiotic dosages in some special subpopulations; and (iii) treatment considerations relating to different antibiotic classes and their adverse events. Results: Clinicians should understand the altered PK/PD of drugs in this population owing to co-morbid conditions and normal physiological changes associated with ageing. The body of evidence justifies the need for individualised dose selection, especially in patients with impaired renal and liver function. Clinicians should be aware of the major drug–drug interactions commonly observed in the elderly as well as potential side effects. Conclusion: Antibiotic therapy in the elderly requires a comprehensive approach, including strategies to improve appropriate antibiotic prescribing, limit their use for uncomplicated infections and ensure the attainment of an optimal PK/PD target. To this purpose, further studies involving the elderly are needed to better understand the PK of antibiotics. Moreover, it is necessary to assess the role therapeutic drug monitoring in guiding antibiotic therapy in elderly patients in order to evaluate its impact on clinical outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-333
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Global Antimicrobial Resistance
StatePublished - Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Adverse events
  • Antibiotics
  • Dosage
  • Elderly
  • Pharmacodynamics
  • Pharmacokinetics


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