Carbapenem Use in the Last Days of Life: A Nationwide Korean Study

Antibiotics (Basel). 2023 May 26;12(6):964. doi: 10.3390/antibiotics12060964.


The appropriate use of carbapenem is a critical concern for patient safety and public health, and is a national priority. We investigated the nationwide status of carbapenem prescription in patients within their last 14 days of life to guide judicious-use protocols from the previous study comprised of 1350 decedents. Carbapenem use was universally controlled through computerised authorisation system at all centres during the study period. Carbapenem prescribing patterns and their optimality were evaluated. A total of 1201 patients received antimicrobial agents within the last two weeks of their lives, of whom 533 (44.4%) received at least one carbapenem. The median carbapenem treatment duration was seven days. Of the 533 patients receiving carbapenems, 510 (95.7%) patients had microbiological samples drawn and 196 (36.8%) yielded carbapenem-resistant pathogens. A total of 200 (37.5%) patients were referred to infectious disease (ID) specialists. Of the 333 patients (62.5%) who did not have ID consultations, 194 (58.2%) were assessed as "not optimal", 79 (23.7%) required escalation, 100 (30.0%) required de-escalation, and 15 (4.5%) were discontinued. Notwithstanding the existing antibiotic restriction program system, carbapenems are commonly prescribed to patients in their last days of life.

Keywords: antimicrobial stewardship programs; carbapenem; handshake.