University at Albany

Antibiotic Policy

The UAlbany Medical staff is committed to the appropriate use of all medications, including antibiotics.

To this end UAlbany clinicians adhere to established guidelines based on evidence based medicine regarding appropriate use of antibiotics particularly in the management of respiratory infections.

To learn more about antibiotic use please visit these resources:

For a summary of appropriate uses of antibiotics in respiratory infections please see below.

Respiratory infections that do require an antibiotic include:

  • Pneumonia, which usually requires a chest x-ray for a diagnosis to be made with certainty.
  • Strep Throat; a sore throat due to Group A Beta Hemolytic streptococcus. This infection requires antibiotics to prevent the (albeit rare) complication of Rheumatic Fever. Even without antibiotics, Strep Throat resolves on it's own within 4-5 days in most cases. Antibiotics will shorten the course of the illness only by about 12-24 hours.
  • Bronchitis in a patient with severe chronic lung disease (often due to a long history of smoking). In this situation the bronchitis may have a bacterial component, as opposed to the case in patients without underlying lung disease, who are often infected with viruses for which antibiotics are not effective.
  • Bacterial Sinusitis; It is often difficult to make a clear diagnosis of bacterial sinusitis since the symptoms are nearly identical to the common cold (URI). The most useful distinguishing feature is the duration of symptoms. Since viral colds resolve within 10-14 days (and improve within 7-10) ,any "cold" lasting more than 10-14 days may be complicated by a secondary bacterial infection leading to a bacterial sinusitis. In this case antibiotics may be beneficial (though at least 40-50% of bacterial sinusitis cases get better just as quickly without an antibiotic compared to those treated with an antibiotic).