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Hosp Pediatr. 2017 Jul 20. pii: hpeds.2016-0162. doi: 10.1542/hpeds.2016-0162. [Epub ahead of print]

Empiric Antibiotic Use and Susceptibility in Infants With Bacterial Infections: A Multicenter Retrospective Cohort Study.

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University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington;
Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Pediatrics, Children's Mercy, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, Kansas City, Missouri.
Section of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Departments of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.
Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.
Center for Clinical and Translational Research, Seattle Children's Hospital, Seattle, Washington.
Division of Emergency Medicine, Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois.
Center for Pediatric Clinical Effectiveness and Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Division of Hospital Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee; and.
Division of Hospital Medicine, Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters, Norfolk, Virginia.
Division of Hospital Medicine.



To assess hospital differences in empirical antibiotic use, bacterial epidemiology, and antimicrobial susceptibility for common antibiotic regimens among young infants with urinary tract infection (UTI), bacteremia, or bacterial meningitis.


We reviewed medical records from infants <90 days old presenting to 8 US children's hospitals with UTI, bacteremia, or meningitis. We used the Pediatric Health Information System database to identify cases and empirical antibiotic use and medical record review to determine infection, pathogen, and antimicrobial susceptibility patterns. We compared hospital-level differences in antimicrobial use, pathogen, infection site, and antimicrobial susceptibility.


We identified 470 infants with bacterial infections: 362 (77%) with UTI alone and 108 (23%) with meningitis or bacteremia. Infection type did not differ across hospitals (P = .85). Empirical antibiotic use varied across hospitals (P < .01), although antimicrobial susceptibility patterns for common empirical regimens were similar. A third-generation cephalosporin would have empirically treated 90% of all ages, 89% in 7- to 28-day-olds, and 91% in 29- to 89-day-olds. The addition of ampicillin would have improved coverage in only 4 cases of bacteremia and meningitis. Ampicillin plus gentamicin would have treated 95%, 89%, and 97% in these age groups, respectively.


Empirical antibiotic use differed across regionally diverse US children's hospitals in infants <90 days old with UTI, bacteremia, or meningitis. Antimicrobial susceptibility to common antibiotic regimens was similar across hospitals, and adding ampicillin to a third-generation cephalosporin minimally improves coverage. Our findings support incorporating empirical antibiotic recommendations into national guidelines for infants with suspected bacterial infection.

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