Adding antibiotics to a steroid regimen may improve short-term outcomes for patients hospitalized with acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (AE-COPD), according to research appearing in the journal CHEST.

For the study, researchers examined the effectiveness of three commonly used antibiotic regimens — quinolone, macrolides plus cephalosporin, or macrolide monotherapy — in 53,900 patients admitted for AE-COPD and treated with corticosteroids.

Compared with patients not treated with antibiotics, receipt of antibiotics was associated with a 40% reduction in the odds for in-hospital mortality. Patients treated with antibiotics were also 13% less likely to be readmitted for AE-COPD within 30 days than those not treated with antibiotics.

Still, the authors note the study should not be interpreted as “evidence of indiscriminate prescribing of antibiotics to any hospitalized patient with AE-COPD.”

“We did not have clinical data and could not assess when antibiotics were used inappropriately,” the authors wrote. “The benefit of antibiotics should not be generalized to all subgroups of patients, and treating only certain patients is still preferable.”

The full study is available here.