Early switch from intravenous to oral antibiotics and early hospital discharge: a prospective observational study of 200 consecutive patients with community-acquired pneumonia

Arch Intern Med. 1999 Nov 8;159(20):2449-54. doi: 10.1001/archinte.159.20.2449.


To determine the proportion of patients who can be treated with early switch to oral antibiotics and early discharge, to evaluate clinical outcome and patient satisfaction for patients treated with early switch and early discharge, and to define the factors that interfere with early discharge for some of the patients who underwent early switch to oral antibiotic therapy.

Design: Prospective study.

Participants: Two hundred consecutive hospitalized patients with community-acquired pneumonia.

Main outcome measures: Number of days needed to switch to oral therapy and length of hospital stay. Clinical outcome and satisfaction with care were evaluated for those patients treated with early switch and early discharge.

Results: Early switch to oral antibiotics (within the first 3 days of hospitalization) was performed in 133 patients (67%). Clinical failure was documented in 1 patient. Early switch and early discharge was performed in 88 patients (44%). The mean length of hospital stay for this group was 3.4 days. The most common reason for prolonged hospitalization after the switch to oral antibiotics was the need for diagnostic workup. More than 95% of patients were satisfied with the care they had received.

Conclusions: Using simple clinical and laboratory criteria, a significant proportion of hospitalized patients with community-acquired pneumonia (44%) can be treated with early switch and early discharge. This model did not affect patient outcome, decreased the length of hospitalization, and was associated with a high level of patient satisfaction.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Community-Acquired Infections / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Kentucky
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Discharge / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Pneumonia / drug therapy*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents