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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2013 Mar;57(3):1163-8. doi: 10.1128/AAC.01965-12. Epub 2012 Dec 17.

A trial of discontinuation of empiric vancomycin therapy in patients with suspected methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus health care-associated pneumonia.

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Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control Program, Yale-New Haven Hospital, New Haven, CT, USA.


Healthcare-associated pneumonia (HCAP) guidelines recommend de-escalating initial antibiotic therapy based on results from lower-respiratory-tract cultures. In the absence of adequate lower respiratory cultures, physicians are sometimes reluctant to discontinue empirical vancomycin, which is given for suspected methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) HCAP. We evaluated a strategy of discontinuing vancomycin if both nasal and throat cultures were negative for MRSA when lower-respiratory-tract cultures were not available. An antimicrobial stewardship team identified patients receiving empirical vancomycin for suspected or proven HCAP but for whom adequate lower-respiratory-tract cultures were not available. Nasal and throat swab specimens were obtained and plated on MRSA selective media. If both nasal and throat MRSA cultures were negative, the stewardship team recommended discontinuation of empirical vancomycin. Demographic and clinical aspects, a clinical pulmonary infection score (CPIS) on the day of the stewardship recommendation, and mortality of patients for whom vancomycin was discontinued were obtained by retrospective chart review. A convenience sample of 91 patients with nasal and throat cultures negative for MRSA in the absence of adequate respiratory cultures had empirical vancomycin therapy discontinued. A retrospective review revealed that 88 (97%) patients had a CPIS of ≤6 on the day of the stewardship recommendation. In-hospital mortality (7.7%) was similar to that of a previous study of de-escalation of antibiotics in pneumonia patients without adequate cultures. In the absence of adequate lower-respiratory-tract cultures, it is reasonable to discontinue empirical vancomycin HCAP therapy in patients with negative MRSA nasal and throat cultures and a CPIS of <6.

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