Inadequate antimicrobial treatment: an important determinant of outcome for hospitalized patients

Clin Infect Dis. 2000 Sep;31 Suppl 4:S131-8. doi: 10.1086/314079.


Inadequate antimicrobial treatment, generally defined as microbiological documentation of an infection that is not being effectively treated, is an important factor in the emergence of infections due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Factors that contribute to inadequate antimicrobial treatment of hospitalized patients include prior antibiotic exposure, use of broad-spectrum antibiotics, prolonged length of stay, prolonged mechanical ventilation, and presence of invasive devices. Strategies to minimize inadequate treatment include consulting an infectious disease specialist, using antibiotic practice guidelines, and identifying quicker methods of microbiological identification. In addition, clinicians should determine the prevailing pathogens that account for the community-acquired and nosocomial infections identified in their hospitals. Clinicians can improve antimicrobial treatment by using empirical combination antibiotic therapy based on individual patient characteristics and the predominant bacterial flora and their antibiotic susceptibility profiles. This broad-spectrum therapy can then be narrowed when initial culture results are received. Further study evaluating the use of antibiotic practice guidelines and strategies to reduce inadequate treatment is necessary to determine their impact on patient outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bacteremia / drug therapy
  • Cross Infection / drug therapy*
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial
  • Drug Therapy, Combination / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / drug therapy
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents