The measurement of time to first antibiotic dose for pneumonia in the emergency department: a white paper and position statement prepared for the American Academy of Emergency Medicine

J Emerg Med. 2009 Oct;37(3):335-40. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2009.06.127. Epub 2009 Aug 31.


Background: Measurement of time to first antibiotic dose (TFAD) in the emergency department (ED) in community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) has been controversial.

Objective: To evaluate original articles reporting outcomes in CAP patients before and after TFAD measurement and assess whether it increases antibiotic overuse in non-CAP conditions.

Methods: We performed searches using PubMed, addressing two questions: 1) Is the measurement of TFAD associated with improved outcomes in CAP? and 2) Is the measurement of TFAD associated with antibiotic overuse or interventions that could result in overuse in non-CAP conditions? Two independent reviewers assessed studies addressing these questions.

Results: Eight studies were identified. All were Grade C or D and of "Adequate" quality: two studies supported TFAD by showing improved outcomes (improved survival in one study and no survival difference but shorter hospital length-of-stay in the second) in CAP patients after the implementation of TFAD; one neutral article reported no difference in survival with improved TFAD timing; five studies opposed TFAD either by showing increases in antibiotic overuse in non-CAP patients, or suggesting that TFAD measurement would promote antibiotic misuse.

Conclusion: Given inconsistent evidence to demonstrate that improving TFAD in CAP improves outcomes or that TFAD is associated with antibiotic overuse, a Class C indication has been assigned (not acceptable/not appropriate) for ED TFAD measurement. The American Academy of Emergency Medicine recommends that measurement of TFAD in CAP be discontinued.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Community-Acquired Infections / drug therapy
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / drug therapy*
  • Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care*
  • Time Factors


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents