Fx Tib Fib Open Irrigation open fractures antibiotics

Open fractures come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes fractures create only a small, innocuous-looking puncture through the skin. Other times they look grossly contaminated with organic material and have significant soft tissue injury. The major concern is wound infection. Prophylactic antibiotics are essential in the ED.

Typically antibiotics are first-generation cephalosporins. When do you start adding more coverage with high-dose penicillin or aminoglycosides?


Once you have significant soft tissue injury, you are automatically have a Type III fracture and should add an aminoglycoside.

PV Card: Open Fractures and Antibiotics

Adapted from [1] Go to ALiEM (PV) Cards for more resources.


  1. Hoff W, Bonadies J, Cachecho R, Dorlac W. East Practice Management Guidelines Work Group: update to practice management guidelines for prophylactic antibiotic use in open fractures. J Trauma. 2011;70(3):751-754. [PubMed]
Michelle Lin, MD
ALiEM Founder and CEO
Professor and Digital Innovation Lab Director
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of California, San Francisco
Michelle Lin, MD


Professor of Emerg Med at UCSF-Zuckerberg SF General. ALiEM Founder @aliemteam #PostitPearls at https://t.co/50EapJORCa Bio: https://t.co/7v7cgJqNEn
Michelle Lin, MD