When people are hospitalized they are often given powerful acid suppressing drugs to prevent stress ulcers. When people are very sick and have to spend several days in a hospital bed they may develop bleeding ulcers in the digestive tract. Proton pump inhibitors such as Nexium, Prilosec or Prevacid are thought to reduce the likelihood of this complication.
A review of nearly 80,000 patient records at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital showed that the drugs do reduce the risk of stress ulcers but the benefits may not be great enough to justify their routine use. The investigators estimate that doctors would need to treat nearly 800 patients to keep one from being harmed by a bleeding stomach ulcer. Other studies suggest that these drugs increase the risk of a patient contracting serious infections such as pneumonia or C diff, a dangerous digestive tract bacteria. Statistical comparisons suggest that these dangers may outweigh the possible benefit of acid suppressing drugs for many patients.
[Archives of Internal Medicine, Feb. 14, 2011]

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  1. DWD

    A timely article for us. My wife was just released from 3 days in the hospital due to anemia from GI blood loss (dark stool). She needed a transfusion to build her hemaglobin and hemacrit back up so she was not getting faint. Endoscopy and camera pill could not find a bleed so the assumption is it stopped. The endo did detect some signs of minor gastritis.
    They put her on a PPI drip the whole 3 days and sent her home with a 30 day supply generic prilosec.
    She had a similar incident 4 years ago but no dark stool but the endo did find a small healing ulcer at that time. She took PPI for 3 months and decided to quit based on info we found here. Her GP wanted her to stay on it.
    Printed this article to take to doctor on follow up in two weeks. Thanks.

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