Antibiotics Home > Nafcillin Uses

Nafcillin is an antibiotic approved to treat certain bacterial infections in adults and children. This prescription antibiotic is specifically used when there is good reason to suspect that an infection is caused by bacteria that will be susceptible to this drug. This may involve having a "culture and sensitivity" test done. Using nafcillin for preventing an infection would be an off-label, or unapproved, use for this drug.

What Is Nafcillin Used For?

Nafcillin is a prescription antibiotic used to treat a variety of different infections. Given intravenously (by IV) or as an intramuscular (IM) injection, nafcillin is typically given in a hospital or other similar setting.
At one time, nafcillin and other similar antibiotics were the "latest and greatest" antibiotics used to treat serious infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria. However, nafcillin and other similar antibiotics are no longer as useful as they once were, as resistance has developed to these medications as well.
Nafcillin should be given only when there is a very good reason to suspect that an infection is caused by bacteria that will be susceptible to the drug. The best way to know this is if a "culture and sensitivity" test has been done. However, this type of testing takes time (often a few days), so some sort of antibiotic must be started while waiting for the results.
Bacteria have different resistance patterns in different regions in the country. This means that some bacteria may be susceptible to nafcillin in certain parts of the country but not in others. Depending on the particular resistance patterns in your area, your healthcare provider might assume that any staph infection would be resistant to nafcillin (in which case a different antibiotic would be chosen first, until the culture and sensitivity results come back).
In many situations where a healthcare provider can accurately "guess" which type of bacteria is causing an infection, such as with a basic urinary tract infection, culture and sensitivity testing may not be performed at all. However, if such an infection does not clear up using the usual antibiotic based on the "best guess," then culture and sensitivity testing is a good idea.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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