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Pharmacotherapy. 2011 Nov;31(11):1073-84. doi: 10.1592/phco.31.11.1073.

Combination antibiotic therapy for empiric and definitive treatment of gram-negative infections: insights from the Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists.

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Parkland Health and Hospital System, Dallas, Texas, USA.


The widespread emergence of antibiotic-resistant gram-negative organisms has compromised the utility of current treatment options for severe infections caused by these pathogens. The rate of gram-negative multidrug resistance is worsening, threatening the effectiveness of newer broad-spectrum antibiotic agents. Infections associated with multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter baumannii, and Enterobacteriaceae are having a substantial impact on hospital costs and mortality rates. The potential for these resistant gram-negative nosocomial pathogens must always be a primary consideration when selecting antibiotic therapy for critically ill patients. Empiric combination therapy directed at gram-negative pathogens is a logical approach for patients with suspected health care-associated infections, particularly those with risk factors for infections caused by multidrug-resistant pathogens. Although in vitro synergy tests have shown potential benefits of continued combination therapy, convincing clinical data that demonstrate a need for combination therapy once susceptibilities are known are lacking. Thus, deescalation to a single agent once susceptibilities are known is recommended for most patients and pathogens. Use of polymyxins, often in combination with other antimicrobials, may be necessary for salvage therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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