Multiple factors contribute to the development of posttraumatic empyema. These factors include the conditions under which the tube is inserted (emergent or urgent), the mechanism of injury, retained hemothorax, and ventilator care. The incidence of empyema in placebo groups ranges between 0 and 18%. The administration of antibiotics for longer than 24 hours did not seem to significantly reduce this risk compared with a shorter duration, although the numbers in each series were small. Most reports found a significant reduction in pneumonitis when patients received prolonged prophylactic antibiotics. This use of antibiotics might possibly be better described as presumptive therapy rather than prophylactic.
Luchette, F. A., Barrie, P. S., Oswanski, M. F., Spain, D. A., Mullins, C. D., Palumbo, F., & Pasquale, M. D. (2000). Practice Management Guidelines for Prophylactic Antibiotic Use in Tube Thoracostomy for Traumatic Hemopneumothorax: the EAST Practice Management Guidelines Work Group. Eastern Association for Trauma. The Journal Of Trauma, 48(4), 753-757.