If clinicians don’t know if a hospitalised COVID-19 patient has a secondary bacterial infection, how do they decide which empiric antibiotic to use for that patient?
In an ideal world they would want to know which bacteria a patient is infected with and give the most appropriate antibiotic known to treat that bacterial species. Without this information, clinicians are left with administering a broad-spectrum antibiotic in the hope that it will kill whatever bacteria are causing the infection. Broad-spectrum antibiotics are active against a wider number of bacterial types and, thus, may be used to treat a variety of infectious diseases, especially when the infecting agent (bacteria) is unknown. The antibiotic choice is usually guided on what symptoms and severity of illness the patient presents with. For example, If the patient has respiratory symptoms they would treat for a respiratory tract infection with antibiotics that are more targeted for that type of infection. Doctors monitor bloods, observations (BP, temp, respiratory rate, etc.) for improvement and take guidance from that.