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Reporting a Medication Error

Potential for disabling side effects from certain antibiotics

223d3e825305be1390f95e96c8b494f2 MIn May, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent out a warning that fluoroquinolones, a specific type of antibiotic (listed in image), can cause very serious side effects. These disabling side effects can involve the tendons, muscles, joints, the brain, and nerves in the spine. Tearing or a complete split of the Achilles tendon at the back of the heel and lower leg is an example. These injuries can be permanent! People who have had an organ transplant, have kidney disease, the elderly, and those who have recently taken steroids to treat another condition are at greater risk of developing these side effects.1

Fluoroquinolones are antibiotics prescribed by doctors to treat acute sinus infections (sinusitis), acute lung infections (bronchitis), and bladder infections. FDA is advising doctors that the serious side effects of these antibiotics often outweigh the benefits. Doctors should prescribe these antibiotics when no other treatment option is available.

Fluroquinoline list

Here’s what you can do: If your doctor prescribes a fluoroquinolone antibiotic to treat an infection, notify your doctor immediately if you have any serious side effects. Signs and symptoms of serious side effects include tendon, joint, or muscle pain; a “pins and needles” tingling or pricking sensation; confusion, or hallucinations. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you have any concerns.

1. Bidell MR, Lodise TP. Fluoroquinolone-associated tendinopathy: does levofloxacin pose the greatest risk? Pharmacotherapy. 2016;36(6):679-93.

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