Journal Article

Prospective audit of bacteraemia management in a university hospital ICU using a general strategy of short-course monotherapy

Alberto Corona, A. Peter R. Wilson, Mario Grassi and Mervyn Singer

in Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy

Published on behalf of British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy

Volume 54, issue 4, pages 809-817
Published in print October 2004 | ISSN: 0305-7453
Published online October 2004 | e-ISSN: 1460-2091 | DOI:
Prospective audit of bacteraemia management in a university hospital ICU using a general strategy of short-course monotherapy

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  • Medical Oncology
  • Critical Care


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Objective: As optimal antibiotic therapy for bacteraemia remains unknown, different strategies have evolved. Routine practice in the University College London Hospitals intensive care unit (ICU) is to use short-course (5–6 days) monotherapy, unless specifically indicated (e.g. endocarditis, osteomyelitis). We decided to assess this approach for treating community-, hospital-, and ICU-acquired bacteraemia by monitoring clinical response, relapse rate and patient outcome.

Design: Six-month prospective observational study from February to July 2000.

Setting: Mixed medical-surgical tertiary referral ICU.

Patients: All 713 patients admitted to the ICU over the study period.

Measurements and results: In total, 102 bacteraemic episodes occurred in 84 patients. Eight (57%) of 14 community-acquired bacteraemias, 22 (79%) of 28 hospital-acquired bacteraemias, and 48 (80%) of 60 ICU-acquired bacteraemias (in 49 patients) were treated with short-course monotherapy. Compared with previous reported studies, these patients had a low rate (23.8%) of death directly attributable to the bacteraemia and a satisfactory clinical response in 72%. Of six relapses (all Gram-negative), four had received combination therapy for severe deep-seated infections. ICU-acquired multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteraemias (6.5%) and fungaemias (3%) were also uncommon. No patient discharged from ICU subsequently developed a new bacteraemia relapse, or any long-term complication such as osteomyelitis.

Conclusions: Our general strategy of short-course antibiotic monotherapy for treating bacteraemia in the critically ill appears to provide a satisfactory clinical response, low relapse rate and no long-term complications in a well-defined group of patients. Multicentre studies are warranted to compare short versus long course therapy, and monotherapy versus combination therapy.

Keywords: fungaemia; intensive care unit; antibiotic therapy

Journal Article.  5901 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Oncology ; Critical Care

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