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Optimizing dosing of antibiotics in critically ill patients

Parker, Suzanne L.a; Sime, Fekade B.a; Roberts, Jason A.a,b,c

Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases: December 2015 - Volume 28 - Issue 6 - p 497–504
doi: 10.1097/QCO.0000000000000206

Purpose of review Recent studies suggest that contemporary antibiotic dosing is unlikely to achieve best outcomes for critically ill patients because of extensive pharmacokinetic variability and altered pharmacodynamics. Dose adaptation is considered quite challenging because of unpredictable dose–exposure relationships. Consequently, individualization of antibiotic dosing has been advocated. Herein, we describe recent developments in the optimization of antibiotic dosing in the critically ill.

Recent findings Conventional doses of many antibiotics frequently result in sub or supratherapeutic exposures in the critically ill. Clinical studies continue to illustrate that dose–exposure relationships are highly variable in severely ill patients. Dose optimization based on pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic principles can effectively improve antibiotic exposure. Therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) with adaptive feedback is likely to be the most robust approach to optimize dosing for individual patients. This more accurate approach to dosing is made possible with the user-friendly dosing software that is emerging.

Summary The scope of TDM is broadening from the traditional focus on prevention of toxicity, to include optimization of antibiotic exposure thereby improving patient outcomes. However, the evidence relating TDM practice with improved clinical outcome remains limited. Well designed, multicentre, randomized controlled studies are warranted.

aBurns, Trauma and Critical Care Research Centre, The University of Queensland

bDepartment of Intensive Care Medicine

cDepartment of Pharmacy, Royal Brisbane Hospital, Brisbane, Australia

Correspondence to Prof. Jason A. Roberts, Burns Trauma and Critical Care Research Centre, The University of Queensland, Level 3 Ned Hanlon Building, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, Butterfield St, Brisbane, Queensland 4029, Australia. Tel: +617 3646 4108; fax: +617 3636 3542; e-mail:

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