Bacterial endocarditis is not a frequently encountered disease, but it is an important one, because early diagnosis and proper treatment will usually lead to complete recovery with few or no sequelae. On the other hand, improper treatment almost invariably results in death. There is no other infection wherein it is more important to choose the correct therapeutic agent and to use it in proper doses for an adequate period of time. Exact adherence to a definite regimen will often make the difference between life and death.
In the past bacterial endocarditis was often classified according to its duration, and such terms as acute and subacute were commonly used. These terms are almost meaningless now, because patients are usually treated before the disease becomes chronic or "subacute." The most important factors in determining the outcome are the microorganism that is causing the disease and its susceptibility to available antibiotics.