Levels of outpatient prescribing for four major antibiotic classes and rates of septicemia hospitalization in adults in different US states - a statistical analysis

BMC Public Health. 2019 Aug 19;19(1):1138. doi: 10.1186/s12889-019-7431-8.


Background: Rates of sepsis/septicemia hospitalization in the US have risen significantly during recent years. Antibiotic resistance and use may contribute to those rates through various mechanisms, including lack of clearance of resistant infections following antibiotic treatment, with some of those infections subsequently devolving into sepsis. At the same time, there is limited information on the effect of prescribing of certain antibiotics vs. others on the rates of septicemia and sepsis-related hospitalizations and mortality.

Methods: We used multivariable linear regression to relate state-specific rates of outpatient prescribing overall for oral fluoroquinolones, penicillins, macrolides, and cephalosporins between 2011 and 2012 to state-specific rates of septicemia hospitalization (ICD-9 codes 038.xx present anywhere on a discharge diagnosis) in each of the following age groups of adults: (18-49y, 50-64y, 65-74y, 75-84y, 85 + y) reported to the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) between 2011 and 2012, adjusting for additional covariates, and random effects associated with the ten US Health and Human Services (HHS) regions.

Results: Increase in the rate of prescribing of oral penicillins by 1 annual dose per 1000 state residents was associated with increases in annual septicemia hospitalization rates of 0.19 (95% CI (0.02,0.37)) per 10,000 persons aged 50-64y, of 0.48(0.12,0.84) per 10,000 persons aged 65-74y, and of 0.81(0.17,1.40) per 10,000 persons aged 74-84y. Increase by 1 in the percent of African Americans among state residents in a given age group was associated with increases in annual septicemia hospitalization rates of 2.3(0.32,4.2) per 10,000 persons aged 75-84y, and of 5.3(1.1,9.5) per 10,000 persons aged over 85y. Average minimal daily temperature was positively associated with septicemia hospitalization rates in persons aged 18-49y, 50-64y, 75-84y and over 85y.

Conclusions: Our results suggest positive associations between the rates of prescribing for penicillins and the rates of hospitalization with septicemia in US adults aged 50-84y. Further studies are needed to better understand the potential effect of antibiotic replacement in the treatment of various syndromes, including the potential impact of the recent US FDA guidelines on restriction of fluoroquinolone use, as well as the potential effect of changes in the practices for prescribing of penicillins on the rates of sepsis-related hospitalization and mortality.

Keywords: African Americans; Antibiotic prescribing; Cephalosporins; Daily temperature; Fluoroquinolones; Hospitalization rate; Macrolides; Penicillins; Sepsis; Septicemia.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ambulatory Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Sepsis / epidemiology
  • Sepsis / mortality
  • Sepsis / therapy*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents