Background: Recommendations for treatment of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) emphasize early empiric broad-spectrum antibiotics. However, appropriate antibiotic de-escalation is also critical for optimal patient care.
Materials and methods: We examined how often intensivists in our institution appropriately de-escalated antibiotics in cases of suspected VAP, and whether decision support by intensive care unit pharmacists could improve rates of antibiotic targeting and early antibiotic discontinuation in low-risk patients.
Main results: A total of 92 (observation phase = 50; intervention phase = 42) patients with suspected VAP were identified. During the observation phase, 39 cases yielded positive sputum cultures, but in only 23 (59%) were antibiotics targeted to culture results. This rate improved during the intervention phase when 29 (91%) of 32 cases with positive cultures were targeted (P value .003). There were 48 cases in which the risk of pneumonia was considered low. Of the 26 low-risk cases in the observation phase, 5 (19%) had antibiotics discontinued early versus 5 (23%) of the 22 cases in the intervention phase.
Conclusions: Decision support by clinical pharmacists significantly improved rates of appropriate antibiotic targeting in cases of culture-positive suspected VAP but did not have a significant effect on early antibiotic discontinuation in patients at low risk of true pneumonia.
Keywords: antibiotic de-escalation; critical care; pneumonia; ventilator-associated pneumonia.
© The Author(s) 2014.