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Shock. 2000 Sep;14(3):259-64.

Reduction of vancomycin-resistant enterococcal infections by limitation of broad-spectrum cephalosporin use in a trauma and burn intensive care unit.

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Section of Trauma, Burns, and Surgical Critical Care, University of Alabama at Birmingham Health Center, 35294, USA.


Both vancomycin and third-generation cephalosporin use are believed to contribute to a rise in vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) infections. In 1998, the largest number of VRE infections in our hospital occurred in the trauma/burn intensive care unit (TBICU), accounting for nearly 20% of hospital infections. In an attempt to control the VRE infection rate, antibiotic protocols for prophylaxis, empiric, and definitive therapy were initiated during the final quarter of 1998 to minimize cephalosporin use by the introduction of piperacillin/tazobactam. Therefore, we undertook a study of the VRE infection rate for the TBICU in relation to vancomycin, piperacillin/tazobactam, piperacillin, third-generation cephalosporin, and total cephalosporin use before and after efforts to limit cephalosporins. These data were compared to those in the medical and surgical intensive care units. During 1998, seven VRE infections occurred in the TBICU. Following initiation of antibiotic protocols, one case of VRE infection occurred in the subsequent month and no cases in the 17 months since. The decrease in the VRE infection rate corresponded with a significant increase in the use of piperacillin/tazobactam and a reduction in third-generation and total cephalosporin use. In contrast, cephalosporin use in the medical and surgical intensive care units remains significantly higher than in the TBICU, and neither unit has had a reduction in their VRE infection rates.

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