Fawcett, N. et al. Antibiotic use and clinical outcomes in the acute setting under management by an infectious diseases acute physician versus other clinical teams: a cohort study. BMJ Open Volume 6 Issue 8
Objectives To assess the magnitude of difference in antibiotic use between clinical teams in the acute setting and assess evidence for any adverse consequences to patient safety or healthcare delivery.
Design Prospective cohort study (1 week) and analysis of linked electronic health records (3 years).
Setting UK tertiary care centre.
Participants All patients admitted sequentially to the acute medical service under an infectious diseases acute physician (IDP) and other medical teams during 1 week in 2013 (n=297), and 3 years 2012–2014 (n=47 585).
Primary outcome measure Antibiotic use in days of therapy (DOT): raw group metrics and regression analysis adjusted for case mix.
Secondary outcome measures 30-day all-cause mortality, treatment failure and length of stay.
Results Antibiotic use was 173 vs 282 DOT/100 admissions in the IDP versus non-IDP group. Using case mix-adjusted zero-inflated Poisson regression, IDP patients were significantly less likely to receive an antibiotic (adjusted OR=0.25 (95% CI 0.07 to 0.84), p=0.03) and received shorter courses (adjusted rate ratio (RR)=0.71 (95% CI 0.54 to 0.93), p=0.01). Clinically stable IDP patients of uncertain diagnosis were more likely to have antibiotics held (87% vs 55%; p=0.02). There was no significant difference in treatment failure or mortality (adjusted p>0.5; also in the 3-year data set), but IDP patients were more likely to be admitted overnight (adjusted OR=3.53 (95% CI 1.24 to 10.03), p=0.03) and have longer length of stay (adjusted RR=1.19 (95% CI 1.05 to 1.36), p=0.007).
Conclusions The IDP-led group used 30% less antibiotic therapy with no adverse clinical outcome, suggesting antibiotic use can be reduced safely in the acute setting. This may be achieved in part by holding antibiotics and admitting the patient for observation rather than prescribing, which has implications for costs and hospital occupancy. More information is needed to indicate whether any such longer admission will increase or decrease risk of antibiotic-resistant infections.