The classic prior teaching for the treatment of diverticulitis includes:

  • Hospital admission
  • Bowel rest (NPO)
  • IV fluids
  • Broad spectrum IV antibiotics

Do ALL patients need to be admitted? There is some early literature suggesting that there is a small sub-population who fare well with outpatient treatment.

This article from Annals of EM in the “Best Available Evidence” series summarizes the existing literature well.

PV Card: Diverticulitis

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

Word of caution

This paper only provides guidelines, based on the limited evidence out there. Still use your common sense. For instance, I’d still admit patients who are elderly (>80 years old) or have evidence of any perforation on CT. If on the fence, admit the patient.

Still it’s nice to see that the treatment of uncomplicated diverticulitis on an outpatient basis has some supporting literature.


  1. Friend K, Mills AM. Is Outpatient Oral Antibiotic Therapy Safe and Effective for the Treatment of Acute Uncomplicated Diverticulitis? Annals of Emergency Medicine. 2011;57(6):600-602. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2010.11.008
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 Bio:
Michelle Lin, MD