Guidelines for Pneumonia Call for Decreased Use of Broad-Spectrum Antibiotics

Mark Shen, MD, FHM

Clinical question: What is the impact of a clinical practice guideline for hospitalized children with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) on antibiotic selection?

Background: CAP is one of the most common reasons for hospitalizations in children. Broad-spectrum antibiotics frequently are prescribed for presumed bacterial pneumonia in children. Recent guidelines for CAP in children have emphasized that ampicillin is an appropriate empiric inpatient treatment option.

Study design: Retrospective review.

Setting: Tertiary referral children’s hospital.

Synopsis: Patients older than two months old with acute, uncomplicated CAP and without significant secondary illness were identified in the 12-month periods preceding and following the implementation of a clinical practice guideline (CPG) that recommended empiric treatment with ampicillin upon admission, and amoxicillin upon discharge.

A total of 1,033 patients were identified, 530 pre-CPG and 503 post-CPG, and the groups were similar. After the CPG, there was a significant increase in empiric ampicillin use (13% to 63%) and concomitant decrease in ceftriaxone use (72% to 21%). Rates of outpatient narrow-spectrum antibiotic prescribing increased as well, and the rate of treatment failure was similar between the groups.

Complex regression analysis was used to analyze the impact of a concomitant antibiotic stewardship program (ASP), implemented three months prior to the initiation of the CPG and demonstrating a separate and additive effect of both initiatives. Thus, changes in antibiotic prescribing were multifactorial over this time period.

The outcomes remain impressive in the context of two increasingly popular QI efforts—CPGs and ASPs. This study represents a meaningful contribution toward demonstration of outcomes-based quality improvement (QI).

Bottom line: In the context of a CPG, antibiotic spectrum may be safely narrowed in pediatric CAP.

Citation: Newman RE, Hedican EB, Herigon JC, Williams DD, Williams AR, Newland JG. Impact of a guideline on management of children hospitalized with community-acquired pneumonia. Pediatrics. 2012;129(3):e597-604.

Reviewed by Pediatric Editor Mark Shen, MD, FHM, medical director of hospital medicine at Dell Children’s Medical Center, Austin, Texas.

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