Author: SHEA
Date Published:8/27/2015 12:23:00 PM
Publication Format:

For Immediate Release: August 27, 2015
Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America
Contact: Tamara Moore / / 202-745-5114
Author contact: Caroline Arbanas / / 314-286-0109

Probiotics Show No Impact in Preventing Gastrointestinal Colonization with Drug Resistant Organisms

ICU Patients Receive No Benefit or Harm from Probiotic Use

NEW YORK (August 27, 2015) – Probiotics show no benefit for preventing or eliminating gastrointestinal colonization with drug-resistant organisms in patients in the intensive care unit compared to standard care, according to new research published online today in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

“Our research suggests that probiotics do not help prevent gastrointestinal colonization with multidrug-resistant organisms in critically ill patients,” said Jennie H. Kwon, DO, lead author of the study.

This prospective, randomized controlled pilot study, conducted over a 21-month period, followed 70 patients admitted to intensive care units at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. The research team from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis sought to determine if the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG could prevent gastrointestinal colonization of multi-drug resistant organisms (MDROs), such as Clostridium difficile, vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Each patient was followed for 14 days or until they left the unit

There was no significant difference in overall acquisition of any MRDOs between the two groups. A safety assessment of the use of probiotics in this patient population found that there were no significant differences in mortality rates between the two groups and no adverse events related to use of the probiotic.

Limitations of the study included the small sample size of patients, duration of follow-up, and inclusion of a single type of dose of probiotic.  

“Further research is needed on this emerging intervention to evaluate the effectiveness in preventing intestinal colonization of drug-resistant organisms,” said Dr. Kwon. Researchers also noted that their study was confined to lower intestinal bacteria and did not assess possible impact on bacteria in the stomach or upper airways.


Jennie H. Kwon, Kerry M. Bommarito, Kimberly A. Reske, Sondra M. Seiler, Tiffany Hink, Hilary M. Babcock, Marin H. Kollef, Victoria J. Fraser, Carey-Ann D. Burnham,  Erik R. Dubberke. “Randomized Controlled Trial to Determine the Impact of Probiotic Administration on Colonization With Multidrug-Resistant Organisms in Critically Ill Patients.” Web (August 27, 2015).

About ICHE
Published through a partnership between the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America and Cambridge University Press, Infection Control &  Hospital Epidemiology provides original, peer-reviewed scientific articles for anyone involved with an infection control or epidemiology program in a hospital or healthcare facility. ICHE is ranked 13th out of 158 journals in its discipline in the latest Web of Knowledge Journal Citation Reports from Thomson Reuters.

SHEA is a professional society representing physicians and other healthcare professionals around the world with expertise and passion in healthcare epidemiology, infection prevention, and antimicrobial stewardship. SHEA's mission is to prevent and control healthcare-associated infections, improve the use of antibiotics in healthcare settings, and advance the field of healthcare epidemiology. SHEA improves patient care and healthcare worker safety in all healthcare settings through the critical contributions of healthcare epidemiology and improved antibiotic use. The society leads this specialty by promoting science and research, advocating for effective policies, providing high-quality education and training, and developing appropriate guidelines and guidance in practice. Visit SHEA online at, and @SHEA_Epi.

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