Impact of antibiotic resistance on clinical outcomes and the cost of care : Critical Care Medicine

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Impact of antibiotic resistance on clinical outcomes and the cost of care

Niederman, Michael S. MD

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Critical Care Medicine 29(4):p N114-N120, April 2001.


Antibiotic-resistant organisms are common in intensive care unit infection and can be either Gram-positive or Gram-negative. A number of studies have evaluated whether these organisms can lead to excess morbidity, mortality, or cost. In general, the studies are confounded by a number of methodologic issues, including the selection of an appropriate control population. Cases and controls must be appropriately matched for the presence of infection, the presence of infection with similar organisms (but ones that are either antibiotic-sensitive or -resistant), and severity of illness. In addition, studies must account for the therapies given to patients who are infected with resistant organisms because resistance is an important risk factor for inadequate empirical therapy, and such therapy is itself a potent determinant of a number of adverse outcomes, including mortality. To date, the data with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant enterococcus are inconsistent with regard to the effect on mortality rates, although infection with both organisms can lead to excess length of stay and increased cost of care. When studies have been adequately controlled and powered, infection with vancomycin-resistant enterococcus has had more of an effect on the mortality rate than infection with antibiotic-sensitive enterococci. Infection with resistant Gram-negatives also has adverse impact on outcome, with excess mortality being seen in patient groups infected with Acinetobacter and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. If we are to minimize the effect of resistance on medical outcomes and cost, it will be necessary to have a current knowledge of each intensive care unit’s pathogens and susceptibility patterns, so that empirical therapy will have a good likelihood of being effective. In addition, new therapeutic agents may improve on the efficacy of older agents and could reduce cost if they allow for some patients to leave the hospital and to finish therapy with an oral formulation of a highly bioavailable agent.

© 2001 by the Society of Critical Care Medicine and Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

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