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Rev Argent Microbiol. 2011 Jul-Sep;43(3):203-11. doi: 10.1590/S0325-75412011000300007.

Antibiotic prescription in intensive care units in Latin America.


The intensive care units (ICUs) are often considered as the epicenters of antibiotic resistance. Therefore, the total antibiotic consumption is approximately ten fold greater in ICU wards than in general hospital wards. The aim of this study was to evaluate the current use of antibiotics in Latin American ICUs. Three cross-sectional (one-day point) prevalence studies were undertaken in 43 Latin American ICUs. Of 1644 patients admitted, 688 received antibiotic treatment on the days of the study (41.8 %) and, 392 cases (57 %) were due to nosocomial-acquired infections. Of all infections, 22 % (151/688) corresponded to septic shock; and 22 % (151/688) to nosocomial pneumonia (50/151 [33 %], ventilator-associated pneumonia). In 485 patients (70.5 %), cultures were performed before starting antibiotic treatment. The most common microorganisms isolated were extended-spectrum ß-lactamase Enterobacteriaceae, (30.5 %), and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (17 %). Carbapenems (imipenem or meropenem) were the antibiotics most frequently prescribed (151/688, 22 %), followed by vancomycin (103/688, 15 %), piperacillin-tazobactam (86/688, 12.5 %) and broad-spectrum cephalosporins (mainly cefepime) (83/688, 12 %). In summary, carbapenems were the most frequent antibiotics prescribed in Latin American ICUs. This practice seems justified for the high rates of ESBL-producing Gram-negatives found in our patients. Beyond this reason, the problem of bacterial resistance in LA requires that physicians improve the use of carbapenems. The high prevalence of carbapenem-resistant A. baumannii and P. aeruginosa in the region, along with the prevalence of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, have increased markedly. A comprehensive evidence-based stewardship program based on local antimicrobial use and resistance problems should be implemented in our clinical settings.

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