Considerable antibiotic use in neonatal ICUs lacks warrant

Hospitals vary dramatically in how often and for how long they administer antibiotics to babies, which may lead to risky overuse in some facilities, according to a study published in Pediatrics.

In a retrospective cohort study of more than 52,000 infants in 127 neonatal ICUs across California during 2013, researchers compared antibiotic use at different hospitals.

The results of the study revealed a 40-fold variation in antibiotic use in the NICUs, from 2.4 percent to 97.1 percent of patient days, with a median of 24.5 percent of patient days. Additionally, the study found no evidence of the NICUs with high rates of antibiotic use corresponding with higher rates of proven infections.

"Variation in antibiotic prescribing practice appears to hinge on variation in how practitioners frame, interpret, and respond to clinical situations ultimately considered unproven infection," wrote lead study author Joseph Schulman, MD. "Thus, a considerable portion of the observed variation in antibiotic use appears unwarranted; in some NICUs, antibiotics are overused."

According to Dr. Schulman, additional research is needed to establish appropriate antibiotic use ranges and explain the factors impacting the relationship between antibiotic and other resource use.



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8 recent stories on antibiotic resistance

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