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Intensive Care Med. 2000 Jul;26(7):959-66.

Use of antibiotics in pediatric intensive care and potential savings.

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Department of Neonatology and Pediatric Intensive Care, University Children's Hospital, Zurich, Switzerland.



Minimizing unwarranted prescription of antibiotics remains an important objective. Because of the heterogeneity between units regarding patient mix and other characteristics, site-specific targets for reduction must be identified. Here we present a model to address the issue by means of an observational cohort study.


A tertiary, multidisciplinary, neonatal, and pediatric intensive care unit of a university teaching hospital.


All newborns and children present in the unit (n = 456) between September 1998 and March 1999. Reasons for admission included postoperative care after cardiac surgery, major neonatal or pediatric surgery, severe trauma, and medical conditions requiring critical care.


Daily recording of antibiotics given and of indications for initiation. After discontinuation, each treatment episode was assessed as to the presence or absence of infection.


Of the 456 patients 258 (56.6%) received systemic antibiotics, amounting to 1815 exposure days (54.6%) during 3322 hospitalization days. Of these, 512 (28%) were prescribed as prophylaxis and 1303 for suspected infection. Treatment for suspected ventilator-associated pneumonia accounted for 616 (47%) of 1303 treatment days and suspected sepsis for 255 days (20%). Patients were classified as having no infection or viral infection during 552 (40%) treatment days. The average weekly exposure rate in the unit varied considerably during the 29-week study period (range: 40-77/100 hospitalization days). Patient characteristics did not explain this variation.


In this unit the largest reduction in antibiotic treatment would result from measures assisting suspected ventilator-associated pneumonia to be ruled out and from curtailing extended prophylaxis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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