Optimizing antibiotic use for early onset sepsis: A tertiary NICU experience

Arora, V., Strunk, D., Furqan, S.H., Schweig, L., Lefaiver, C., George, J., Prazad, P.* | JNPM 2020;

BACKGROUND: Neonatal antibiotic use is associated with a greater risk of nosocomial infection, necrotizing enterocolitis, and mortality. It can induce drug-resistant pathogens that contribute to increased neonatal morbidity/mortality, healthcare costs, and length of stay. Prior to the antibiotic stewardship program, decisions to obtain blood cultures and empiric antibiotics for possible Early-onset Sepsis (EOS) in late preterm and term infants upon NICU admission were provider-dependent rather than algorithm-based. We aimed to decrease empiric antibiotic prescription from 70% to 56% (20% decrease) in infants ≥34 weeks gestation admitted to the NICU.
METHODS: The stewardship initiative comprised the following practice changes: (1) use of the Neonatal Sepsis Risk Calculator (SRC); and (2) a 36-hour time-out for prescribed empiric antibiotics. Data was retrospectively collected and analyzed for inborn infants pre-intervention (January 2015–December 2015; n = 263) and post-intervention (August 2016–September 2017; n = 279). Data regarding compliance with the new antibiotic guideline were collected and disseminated to the team every week. Overlap between CDC guidelines and calculator recommendations were studied.
RESULTS: Pre-and post-intervention outcomes were analyzed using chi-square tests. There was a significant post-intervention reduction in the rate of both antibiotic prescriptions (29.4% decline; 70.3% vs. 49.6%; p < 0.001) and sepsis evaluations (24.3% decline; 90.9% vs. 68.8%; p < 0.001). No difference (p = 0.271) in culture-positive EOS cases was observed. There was 92% overlap in blood culture recommendations and 95% overlap between antibiotic recommendations when current CDC guidelines were compared to the SRC.
CONCLUSION: A significant reduction in antibiotic use and sepsis evaluations was achieved for late preterm and term infants upon NICU admission. No clinical deterioration occurred in post-intervention infants who did not receive antibiotics. There is significant overlap between CDC guidelines and SRC recommendations.

*Corresponding Author: 

Preetha Prazad, MD, 1775 West Dempster St., Department of Pediatrics, Park Ridge, IL 60068, USA. Tel.: +1 847 723 5313; Fax: +1 847 723 2338; E-mail: preetha.prazad@advocatehealth.com.