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The ethics of prophylactic antibiotics for neurosurgical procedures
  1. S I Savitz1,
  2. M M Rivlin2,
  3. M H Savitz3
  1. 1Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
  2. 2Department of Philosophy, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  3. 3Department of Bioethics, MCP-Hahnemann, Philadelphia, PA, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr S I Savitz, Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 330 Brookline Avenue, KS-406, Boston, MA 02215, USA;


The prophylactic use of antibiotics has become a routine procedure in many areas of medicine. In neurosurgery, however, there is considerable debate over their use in the prevention of postoperative infection. We pose several ethical questions about antibiotic prophylaxis in a neurosurgical setting. These questions are discussed under the following categories: responsible usage of antibiotics; the ethical dilemmas of controlled, antibiotic clinical trials, and some problems inherent in not using prophylactic antibiotics.

  • Antibiotic prophylaxis
  • clinical trials
  • infection
  • neurosurgery

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