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Antibiotics play an important role in the treatment of many surgical diseases that affect older adults, and the potential for inappropriate use of these drugs is high. Our objective was to describe antibiotic use among older adults admitted to an acute care surgery service at a tertiary care teaching hospital.Detailed data regarding diagnosis, comorbidities, surgery and antibiotic use were retrospectively collected for patients 70 years and older admitted to an acute care surgery service. We evaluated antibiotic use (perioperative prophylaxis and treatment) for appropriateness based on published guidelines.During the study period 453 patients were admitted to the acute care surgery service, and 229 underwent surgery. The most common diagnoses were small bowel obstruction (27.2%) and acute cholecystitis (11.0%). In total 251 nonelective abdominal operations were performed, and perioperative antibiotic prophylaxis was appropriate in 49.5% of cases. The most common prophylaxis errors were incorrect timing (15.5%) and incorrect dose (12.4%). Overall 206 patients received treatment with antibiotics for their underlying disease process, and 44.2% received appropriate first-line drug therapy. The most common therapeutic errors were administration of second- or third-line antibiotics without indication (37.9%) and use of antibiotics when not indicated (12.1%). There was considerable variation in the duration of treatment for patients with the same diagnoses.Inappropriate antibiotic use was common among older patients admitted to an acute care surgery service. Quality improvement initiatives are needed to ensure patients receive optimal care in this complex hospital environment.