Low rates of antibiotic resistance and infectious mortality in a cohort of high-risk hematology patients: A single center, retrospective analysis of blood stream infection

PLoS One. 2017 May 19;12(5):e0178059. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0178059. eCollection 2017.


Febrile neutropenia (FN) is a medical emergency and can represent a life-threatening complication for hematology patients treated with intensive chemotherapy regimens. In clinical practice, the diagnostic yield of blood cultures and other investigations which aim to identify a causative organism or site of infection is low. We have retrospectively examined all blood cultures collected in a "real world" cohort of patients receiving chemotherapy for acute leukemia and patients with aggressive lymphoma treated with Hyper-CVAD/MTX-cytarabine, at a single tertiary center over a five-year period. In this cohort, the 30-day mortality following confirmed blood stream infection (BSI) was 5.9%, which is lower than most reports in the recent literature. We compared the blood culture results of inpatients undergoing induction chemotherapy and outpatients presenting with fevers and found a significantly higher rate of proven BSI in the outpatient group. In all settings, gram-negative organisms were most common. The rate of resistance to first-line empiric antibiotics among pathogenic isolates was 11.6% in the whole cohort, independent of blood culture circumstances. There was a trend to higher resistance rates among inpatients undergoing induction chemotherapy compared to patients presenting to the emergency department (17.4% vs 7.5%) but this did not reach statistical significance. We also report low rates of ciprofloxacin resistance (5% of isolates), in a center where universal fluoroquinolone prophylaxis is not employed. Our low resistance and mortality rates support our current therapeutic strategies, however presence of resistant organisms across the spectrum of indications for BC collection highlights the importance of surveilling local patterns, escalating antimicrobial therapy in the deteriorating patient, and considering advanced techniques for the rapid identification of resistance in this patient population.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bacteremia / blood*
  • Bacteremia / drug therapy
  • Bacteremia / microbiology
  • Bacteremia / mortality*
  • Ciprofloxacin / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Febrile Neutropenia / blood
  • Febrile Neutropenia / drug therapy
  • Febrile Neutropenia / microbiology
  • Febrile Neutropenia / mortality*
  • Female
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / complications*
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Ciprofloxacin

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work.