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Acta Clin Belg. 2005 Mar-Apr;60(2):51-62.

Appropriate and timely empirical antimicrobial treatment of icu infections--a role for carbapenems.

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Intensive Care Department, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium.


Treatment of serious nosocomial infections in the intensive care unit requires swift, effective, well-tolerated and appropriate therapy from the outset. The consequences of inappropriate treatment, i.e. the use of antibiotics that are ineffective against the causative pathogen(s) or delayed therapy, are numerous and impact negatively upon both the patient and the ever-dwindling healthcare resources in many hospitals. Although antibiotics have revolutionised the treatment of infections, their inappropriate and untimely use within the intensive care setting has led to the emergence and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria worldwide. Consequently, to ensure successful patient outcomes (reduce morbidity and mortality), it is important that any antibiotic treatment employed is right first time. Treatment of serious infections in the intensive care unit requires an empirical stratagem providing broad-spectrum coverage to a wide range of suspected or difficult-to-treat pathogens such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa. However, to prevent the errors of the past, this needs to be tailored as soon as the pathogen has been identified and resistance patterns are known. The carbapenems are potent parenteral antibiotics, with an ultra-broad spectrum of activity that encompasses multi-drug resistant and difficult-to-treat Gram-negative bacteria. Clinical trial data supports the clinical effectiveness of these agents in patients with difficult to treat pathogens.

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