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Scand J Infect Dis. 2003;35(9):677-82.

Impact of antibiotic resistance on the treatment of sepsis.

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  • 1Women's and Children's Hospital, North Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.


Antibiotics are essential to the treatment of bacterial sepsis as they reduce the bacterial burden. The impact of bacterial resistance has recently been studied and found to be important in a range of conditions. Resistance to antibiotics can be defined genotypically, phenotypically and clinically through pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic studies and their correlations with clinical outcomes. Although the kinetics of antibiotics has been shown to be favourably altered in sepsis, a range of studies in sepsis has revealed that for most pathogens resistance contributes to significant increases in mortality. This has been clearly demonstrated in bacteraemia, including community- and hospital-acquired infection, and with bacteraemia caused by vancomycin-resistant enterococci, methicillin-resistant staphylococci and extended-spectrum producing Gram-negative bacteria. Significant mortality increases have also been seen with ventilator-associated pneumonia and serious infections requiring admission to intensive care. Gentotypic and phenotypic resistance in coagulase-negative staphylococci causing bacteraemia, and in invasive pneumococcal disease has not shown differences in mortality. In the latter case, dosage regimens have to date been adequate to overcome laboratory-defined resistance. Early indications are that de-escalating therapy from broad-spectrum initial coverage after results of cultures and susceptibility tests become available does not jeopardize outcomes, and further prospective studies are warranted. There is now convincing evidence that broad-spectrum initial therapy to cover the likely pathogens and their resistances pending culture results is mandatory in sepsis to minimize adverse outcomes.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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