Background: Patients with infections are usually discharged from the hospital with antibiotics when afebrile and clinically improved.
Objectives: To compare outcomes of early vs conventionally discharged patients and to examine the role of antibiotic use in the discharge process.
Methods: One hundred eleven patients hospitalized with cellulitis, community-acquired pneumonia, or pyelonephritis (urinary tract infection) discharged from the hospital early in their clinical course before defervescence by an infectious diseases hospitalist (L.J.E.) were compared in a case-controlled study with 112 patients discharged from the hospital according to conventional standards of care by internal medicine (IM) hospitalists. Patients were matched for age, sex, diagnosis, and comorbidities. Outcomes were determined for average lengths of stay, readmission to the hospital within 30 days with the same diagnosis, satisfaction with their discharge program, and time to return to their normal activities of daily living.
Results: Patients cared for by the infectious diseases hospitalist had a shorter average length of stay (mean difference, 1.7 days), no readmissions, higher satisfaction scores, and a shorter time to return to their activities of daily living, compared with those cared for by the IM hospitalists. Analysis of the antibiotics that patients were discharged with revealed that the infectious diseases hospitalist used outpatient parenteral antibiotic therapy more frequently than IM hospitalists in the treatment of cellulitis, and switched from intravenous to oral antibiotics sooner than IM hospitalists for patients with community-acquired pneumonia and urinary tract infection.
Conclusions: The infectious diseases hospitalist discharged patients from the hospital earlier than the IM hospitalists by more efficient use of antibiotics. The earlier discharge did not adversely affect outcomes.