Improving empirical antibiotic treatment using TREAT, a computerized decision support system: cluster randomized trial

J Antimicrob Chemother. 2006 Dec;58(6):1238-45. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkl372. Epub 2006 Sep 23.


Background: Appropriate antibiotic treatment decreases mortality, while superfluous treatment is associated with antibiotic resistance. We built a computerized decision support system for antibiotic treatment (TREAT) targeting these outcomes.

Methods: Prospective cohort study comparing TREAT's advice to physician's treatment followed by a cluster randomized trial comparing wards using TREAT (intervention) versus antibiotic monitoring without TREAT (control). We included patients suspected of harbouring bacterial infections in three hospitals (Israel, Germany and Italy). The primary outcome, appropriate antibiotic treatment, was assessed among patients with microbiologically documented infections (MDI). Length of hospital stay, adverse events, mortality (interventional trial) and antibiotic costs (both studies), including costs related to future antibiotic resistance, were compared among all included patients.

Results: Among 1203 patients included in the cohort study (350 with MDI), TREAT prescribed appropriate empirical antibiotic treatment significantly more frequently than physicians (70% versus 57%, P < 0.001) using less broad-spectrum antibiotics at half physicians' antibiotic costs. The randomized trial included 2326 patients, 570 with MDI. The rate of appropriate empirical antibiotic treatment was higher in intervention versus control wards [73% versus 64%, odds ratio (OR): 1.48, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.95-2.29, intention to treat, adjusted for location and clustering]. For patients treated according to TREAT's advice in intervention wards, the difference with controls was highly significant (OR: 3.40, 95% CI: 2.25-5.14). Length of hospital stay, costs related to future resistance and total antibiotic costs were lower in intervention versus control wards.

Conclusions: TREAT improved the rate of appropriate empirical antibiotic treatment while reducing antibiotic costs and the use of broad-spectrum antibiotic treatment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / economics
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy*
  • Bacterial Infections / mortality
  • Cohort Studies
  • Decision Support Techniques*
  • Drug Prescriptions*
  • Drug Therapy, Computer-Assisted*
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents