OBJECTIVE: To determine the incidence and variability of antibiotic use in facilities which provide chronic care and to determine how often clinical criteria for infection are met when antibiotics are prescribed in these facilities.
DESIGN: A prospective, 12-month, observational cohort study.
SETTING: Twenty-two facilities which provide chronic care in southwestern Ontario.
PARTICIPANTS: Patients who were treated with systemic antibiotics over the study period.
MEASUREMENTS: Characteristics of antibiotic prescriptions (name, dose, duration, and indication) and clinical features of randomly selected patients who were treated with antibiotics.
RESULTS: A total of 9,373 courses of antibiotics were prescribed for 2,408 patients (66% of the patients in study facilities). The incidence of antibiotic prescriptions in the facilities ranged from 2.9 to 13.9 antibiotic courses per 1,000 patient-days. Thirty-six percent of antibiotics were prescribed for respiratory tract infections, 33% for urinary infections, and 13% for skin and soft tissue infections. Standardized surveillance definitions of infection were met in 49% of the 1,602 randomly selected patients who were prescribed antibiotics. Diagnostic criteria for respiratory, urinary, and skin infection were met in 58%, 28%, and 65% of prescriptions, respectively. One third of antibiotic prescriptions for a urinary indication were for asymptomatic bacteriuria. Adverse reactions were noted in 6% of prescriptions for respiratory and urinary infections and 4% of prescriptions for skin infection.
CONCLUSIONS: Antibiotic use is frequent and highly variable amongst patients who receive chronic care. Reducing antibiotic prescriptions for asymptomatic bacteriuria represents an important way to optimize antibiotic use in this population.
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