Study objective: Delays in the second dose of antibiotics in the emergency department (ED) are associated with increased morbidity and mortality in patients with serious infections. We analyzed the influence of clinical decision support to prevent delays in second doses of broad-spectrum antibiotics in the ED.
Methods: We allocated adult patients who received cefepime or piperacillin/tazobactam in 9 EDs within an integrated health care system to an electronic alert that reminded ED clinicians to reorder antibiotics at the appropriate interval vs usual care. The primary outcome was a median delay in antibiotic administration. Secondary outcomes were rates of intensive care unit (ICU) admission, hospital mortality, and hospital length of stay. We included a post hoc secondary outcome of frequency of major delay (>25% of expected interval for second antibiotic dose).
Results: A total of 1,113 ED patients treated with cefepime or piperacillin/tazobactam were enrolled in the study, of whom 420 remained under ED care when their second dose was due and were included in the final analysis. The clinical decision support tool was associated with reduced antibiotic delays (median difference 35 minutes, 95% confidence interval [CI], 5 to 65). There were no differences in ICU transfers, inpatient mortality, or hospital length of stay. The clinical decision support tool was associated with decreased probability of major delay (absolute risk reduction 13%, 95% CI, 6 to 20).
Conclusions: The implementation of a clinical decision support alert reminding clinicians to reorder second doses of antibiotics was associated with a reduction in the length and frequency of antibiotic delays in the ED. There was no effect on the rates of ICU transfers, inpatient mortality, or hospital length of stay.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04620486.
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