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Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2007 Mar;48(3):273-7.

Medical and non-medical barriers to outpatient treatment of fever and neutropenia in children with cancer.

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Department of Pediatrics and Infectious Disease, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.



A number of clinical trials have employed clinical criteria that can identify pediatric patients at low-risk for complicated episodes of fever and neutropenia (F&N) and have successfully treated low-risk patients in the outpatient setting. Despite this, inpatient management remains the standard of care. This trial tested the hypothesis that a strategy of initial hospitalization followed by continuation of therapy in the outpatient setting could be practically implemented in the majority of episodes.


Patients presenting with F&N were initially evaluated to determine if they had high-risk clinical criteria that would exclude them from this approach. Eligible patients were then hospitalized and treated with iv antibiotics. On subsequent days the attending physician determined whether the patient had exhibited improvement and could continue therapy in the outpatient setting with oral antibiotics. Outpatients were seen three times weekly and continued antibiotics until recovery from F&N.


Outpatient oral antibiotic therapy was practically implemented in less than one-quarter of episodes of pediatric F&N. Forty-nine percent of episodes were excluded from study by medical and social protocol exclusion criteria. One hundred five episodes were enrolled and among these 59 episodes included outpatient management. Common barriers to outpatient care included serious medical comorbidities, non-medical barriers including language and distance of residence from the medical center, and lack of interest. The average duration of outpatient care was 3.6 days following an average of 3.5 days of hospitalization. Ninety percent did not require rehospitalization. They experienced no complications.


In only a minority of episodes can outpatient antibiotic management be implemented. Medical comorbidities and social barriers can make the transition to outpatient care difficult. However, initial hospitalization followed by oral antibiotic outpatient management appears safe and effective for low-risk patients who exhibit good responses to initial antibiotic therapy in hospital.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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