Acid-suppressive therapy for prophylaxis of stress ulcer bleeding is commonly prescribed for hospitalized patients. Although its use in select, at-risk patients may reduce clinically significant gastrointestinal bleeding, the alteration in gastric pH and composition may place these patients at a higher risk of infection. Although any pharmacologic alteration of the gastric pH and composition is associated with an increased risk of infection, the risk appears to be highest with proton pump inhibitors, perhaps owing to the potency of this class of drugs in increasing the gastric pH. With the increased risk of infection, universal provision of pharmacologic acid suppression to all hospitalized patients, even all critically ill patients, is inappropriate and should be confined to patients meeting specific criteria. Nurses providing care in critical care areas may be instrumental in screening for appropriate use of acid-suppressive therapy and ensuring the drugs are discontinued upon transfer out of intensive care or when risk factors are no longer present.

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