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Scand J Infect Dis. 2007;39(1):63-9.

Prescription of antibiotic agents in Swedish intensive care units is empiric and precise.

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University Hospital Linköping, Stockholm, Sweden.


Since the prescription of antibiotics in the hospital setting is often empiric, particularly in the critically ill, and therefore fraught with potential error, we analysed the use of antibiotic agents in Swedish intensive care units (ICUs). We examined indications for antibiotic treatment, agents and dosage prescribed among 393 patients admitted to 23 ICUs at 7 tertiary care centres, 11 secondary hospitals and 5 primary hospitals over a 2-week period in November 2000. Antibiotic consumption was higher among ICU patients in tertiary care centres with a median of 84% (range 58-87%) of patients on antibiotics compared to patients in secondary hospitals (67%, range 35-93%) and in primary hospitals (38%, range 24-80%). Altogether 68% of the patients received antibiotics during the ICU stay compared to 65% on admission. Cefuroxime was the most commonly prescribed antibiotic before and during admission (28% and 24% of prescriptions, respectively). A date for decision to continue or discontinue antibiotic therapy was set in 21% (6/29) of patients receiving prophylaxis, in 8% (16/205) receiving empirical treatment and in 3% (3/88) when culture-based therapy was given. No correlation between antibiotic prescription and laboratory parameters such as CRP levels, leukocyte and thrombocyte counts, was found. The treatment was empirical in 64% and prophylactic in 9% of cases. Microbiological data guided prescription more often in severe sepsis (median 50%, range 40-60% of prescriptions) than in other specified forms of infection (median 32%, range 21-50%). The empirically chosen antibiotic was found to be active in vitro against the pathogens found in 55 of 58 patients (95%) with a positive blood culture. This study showed that a high proportion of ICU patients receive antimicrobial agents and, as expected, empirical-based therapy is more common than culture-based therapy. Antibiotics given were usually active in vitro against the pathogen found in blood cultures. We ascribe this to a relatively modest antibiotic resistance problem in Swedish hospitals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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