"Antibiotic hardstop" on electronic prescribing: impact on antimicrobial stewardship initiatives in patients with community acquired pneumonia (CAP) and infective exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (IECOPD)

BMC Infect Dis. 2022 Feb 8;22(1):135. doi: 10.1186/s12879-022-07117-8.


Background: Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) remains a major public health threat and the exploration of interventions which may reduce inappropriate antimicrobial use are of particular interest. An Antibiotic Hardstop (AH) was included within the eMeds system introduced to the Central Coast Local Health District (CCLHD) in 2018. The function allows prescribers to set a predetermined time at which antibiotic orders would cease. By default, the function set prescribed length to 5 days with a view to encourage prescribers to review existing antimicrobial orders and reduce inappropriate use.

Methods: Records of adult inpatients prescribed broad spectrum antimicrobials with a registered indication of community acquired pneumonia (CAP) or an infective exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (IECOPD) between the 1st of March 2017 and 31st May 2017 for the pre eMeds cohort and 1st March 2019 and 31st May 2019 for the post eMeds cohort were randomly selected from our local health network's Guidance MS® system. Baseline demographics, antimicrobial prescribing records and documented adverse events related to the AH function were collated/analysed. The days of therapy (DOT) and length of therapy (LOT) for each encounter were calculated manually and results analysed using a two-tailed t-test or Mann-Whitney U test.

Results: Of patients eligible to have the AH function activated during their admission, 34% (n = 34) had the function deployed at least once. Following the introduction of eMeds mean DOT for the pooled indications cohort was reduced by 3.02 days (CI 95% 0.41-5.63, p < 0.05) and mean LOT by 1.97 days (CI 95% 0.39-3.55, p < 0.05). The hardstop function resulted in 2 cases of delayed or unintentionally ceased therapies.

Conclusions: Following the introduction of electronic prescribing and AH, a significant reduction was observed in the DOT and LOT for antimicrobial use for inpatients with CAP and IECOPD without a significant increase in adverse events. Further research is required to determine the extent to which the AH functionality directly contributed to this effect and if the effect is present across a broader range of indications.

Keywords: Antibiotic; Antimicrobial; Electronic; Hardstop; Stewardship.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antimicrobial Stewardship*
  • Electronic Prescribing*
  • Humans
  • Pneumonia* / drug therapy
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive* / drug therapy


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents