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Thorax. 2007 Jan;62(1):67-74. Epub 2006 Aug 23.

Reducing door-to-antibiotic time in community-acquired pneumonia: Controlled before-and-after evaluation and cost-effectiveness analysis.

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Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee, Scotland, UK.



Practice guidelines suggest that all patients hospitalised with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) should receive antibiotics within 4 h of admission. An audit at our hospital during 1999-2000 showed that this target was achieved in less than two thirds of patients with severe CAP.


An experienced multidisciplinary steering group designed a management pathway to improve the early delivery of appropriate antibiotics to patients with CAP. This was implemented using a multifaceted strategy. The effect of implementation was evaluated using a controlled before-and-after study design over two winter seasons (November-April 2001-2 and 2002-3). Cost-effectiveness analyses were performed from the hospital's perspective.


The proportion of patients receiving appropriate antibiotics within 4 h of admission to hospital increased from 33% to 56% at the intervention site, and from 32% to 36% at the control site (absolute change adjusted for differences in severity of illness 17%, p = 0.035). The cost per additional patient receiving appropriate antibiotics within 4 h was 132 pound with no post-implementation evaluation, and 456 pound for a limited post-implementation evaluation. Simple modelling from the results of a large observational study suggests that the cost per death prevented could be 3003 pound with no post-implementation evaluation, or 16,632 pound with a limited post-implementation evaluation.


The intervention markedly improved door-to-antibiotic time, albeit at considerable cost. It might still be a cost-effective strategy, however, to reduce mortality in CAP. Uncertainty about the cost effectiveness of such interventions is likely to be resolved only by a well-designed, cluster randomised trial.

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