Penicillin and meningococcal disease: case-control study
Amy Davis takes you through an observational study that looked at whether penicillin prescribed by a general practitioner before admission to hospital improved children's outcomes
Meningococcal infection can be fatal in hours, and a delay in treatment can lead to excess mortality and morbidity. In the UK general practitioners follow guidelines that say they should give parenteral penicillin as soon as possible if they suspect meningococcal disease. But some studies have shown that giving antibiotics early can increase mortality. This study attempts to investigate this controversial matter.
The study design was an observational study. There are different types of observational studies, but essentially this means that patients are observed, and certain outcomes are measured. The researchers do not intervene in any way in an attempt to change the outcome.
This particular observational study is known as a case-control study. This is because the investigators are observing cases and controls. In this study the cases were the children who died as a result of meningococcal infection. The control group was children who survived meningococcal infection. Once