Antibiotic indications and appropriateness in the pediatric intensive care unit: a ten-center point prevalence study.

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BACKGROUND: Antibiotics are prescribed to most pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) patients, but data evaluating indications and appropriateness of antibiotic orders in this population are lacking.

METHODS: We performed a multicenter point prevalence study including children admitted to 10 geographically diverse PICUs over four study days in 2019. Antibiotic orders were reviewed for indication, and appropriateness was assessed using a standardized rubric.

RESULTS: Of 1462 patients admitted to participating PICUs, 843 (58%) had at least one antibiotic order. A total of 1277 antibiotic orders were reviewed. Common indications were empiric therapy for suspected bacterial infections without sepsis or septic shock (260 orders, 21%), non-operative prophylaxis (164 orders, 13%), empiric therapy for sepsis or septic shock (155 orders, 12%), community acquired pneumonia (CAP) (118 orders, 9%), and post-operative prophylaxis (94 orders, 8%). Appropriateness was assessed for 985 orders for which an evidence-based rubric for appropriateness could be created. Of these, 331 (34%) were classified as inappropriate. Indications with the most orders classified as inappropriate were empiric therapy for suspected bacterial infection without sepsis or septic shock (78 orders, 24%), sepsis or septic shock (55 orders, 17%), CAP (51 orders, 15%), ventilator-associated infections (47 orders, 14%), and post-operative prophylaxis (44 orders, 14%). The proportion of antibiotics classified as inappropriate varied across institutions (range: 19%-43%).

CONCLUSIONS: Most PICU patients receive antibiotics, and based on our study, we estimate that one-third of antibiotic orders are inappropriate. Improved antibiotic stewardship and research focused on strategies to optimize antibiotic use in critically ill children are needed.



Alternate Title

Clin Infect Dis




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