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Antibiotic Therapy Guidelines for Pediatric Pneumonia Helpful, Not Hurtful


Hospitalists need not fear negative consequences when prescribing guideline-recommended antibiotic therapy for children hospitalized with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), according to a recent study conducted at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC).

"Guideline-recommended therapy for pediatric pneumonia did not result in different outcomes than nonrecommended [largely cephalosporin] therapy," lead author and CCHMC-based hospitalist Joanna Thomson MD, MPH, says in an email to The Hospitalist.

Published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine, the study followed the outcomes of 168 pediatric inpatients ages 3 months to 18 years who were prescribed empiric guideline-recommended therapy, which advises using an aminopenicillin first rather than a broad-spectrum antibiotic. The study focused on patients’ outcomes, specifically length of stay (LOS), total cost of hospitalization, and inpatient pharmacy costs, and found no difference in LOS or costs for patients treated according to guidelines compared with those whose treatment varied from the recommendations.

"Given growing concerns regarding antimicrobial resistance, it is pretty easy to extrapolate the benefits of using narrow-spectrum therapy, but we wanted to make sure that it wasn't resulting in negative unintended consequences," Dr. Thomson says. "Indeed, use of guideline-recommended therapy did not change our outcomes."

However, most patients hospitalized with CAP do not currently receive guideline-recommended therapy, according to Dr. Thomson. CCHMC had been one of those institutions overprescribing cephalosporin, with nearly 70% of children admitted with pneumonia receiving the antibiotic. That practice has since changed, she notes.

"The majority of hospitalized patients in the U.S. still receive broad-spectrum cephalosporins," Dr. Thomson says. "I suspect that this may partially be due to fears of unintended negative consequences. We should all be good stewards and prescribe guideline-recommended therapy whenever possible."

Visit our website for more information on antibiotic prescription practices.

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