Probiotics are living microorganisms which have demonstrated many benefits in prevention, mitigation, and treatment of various disease states in critically ill populations. These diseases include antibiotic-associated diarrhea, Clostridium difficile diarrhea, ventilator-associated pneumonia, clearance of vancomycin-resistant enterococci from the GI tract, pancreatitis, liver transplant, major abdominal surgery, and trauma. However, their use has been severely limited due to a variety of factors including a general naïveté within the physician community, lack of regulation, and safety concerns. This article focuses on uses for probiotics in prevention and treatment, addresses current concerns regarding their use as well as proposing a protocol for safe use of probiotics in the critically ill patient.
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