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BMJ. Jul 18, 1992; 305(6846): 141–143.
PMCID: PMC1883221

Meningococcal infections: reducing the case fatality rate by giving penicillin before admission to hospital.


OBJECTIVE--To determine whether parenteral penicillin given before admission to hospital reduces the case fatality rate in patients with meningococcal disease. DESIGN--Retrospective analysis of 46 consecutive patients admitted to hospital with meningococcal disease from January 1986 to March 1991. SETTING--District general hospital. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE--Hospital case fatality rate. RESULTS--None of the 13 patients given parenteral penicillin by the referring doctor before admission died, compared with eight deaths (24%) in 33 patients admitted without such treatment. CONCLUSION--Parenteral penicillin given before admission probably contributed to a reduction in the case fatality rate from meningococcal disease, and primary care physicians should be encouraged to give such treatment immediately on suspicion of the diagnosis before transferring the patient to hospital. Public health physicians are well placed to inform and alert general practitioners of the potential benefit of this action.

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