Durations of intravenous antibiotic therapy for bacterial infections in hospitalized children sometimes extend well beyond clinical recovery and are often the primary determinants of length of stay. These durations, however, are not always based on solid evidence. Moreover, fixed durations are invariant to important individual factors. We review guidelines and the available evidence for durations of intravenous antibiotic therapy for meningitis, bacteremia, urinary tract infection, and osteomyelitis, conditions where intravenous antibiotics often extend beyond resolution of clinical symptoms. We propose a framework for the duration of therapy that is intended to serve as a guide when standards of care are either nonexistent, dated, conflicting, or contrary to evidence from published studies. This framework incorporates patient-centered factors such as severity of infection, response to therapy, ease of intravenous access, harms and costs of ongoing intravenous treatment, and family preferences.
© 2014 Society of Hospital Medicine.