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Keywords:

  • community-acquired pneumonia;
  • early discharge guidelines;
  • early switch to oral antibiotics;
  • length of stay

Background and objective:  The major cost of managing community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) relates to the duration i.v. antibiotic use and length of hospital stay (LOS). Guidelines on early switch to oral antibiotics and early discharge from hospital may help to achieve a unified approach to managing CAP. The aim of this study was to assess the benefits and safety of these guidelines in an Australian respiratory medicine unit.

Methods:  This prospective study included consecutive patients admitted with a diagnosis of CAP over a 6-month period. Early switch to oral antibiotics and early discharge guidelines were implemented one month prior to the evaluation period. Comparison was made to a retrospective control group admitted before the guidelines were implemented. Data collection included patient demographics, clinical and outcome parameters, duration of i.v. antibiotics and LOS. Thirty-day outcomes on patient safety and satisfaction were collected from the prospective group.

Results:  One hundred and twenty-five patients in the prospective group were compared to 100 patients in the controls. Baseline characteristics were similar between the comparison groups. Both the mean duration of i.v. antibiotics used (3.38 ± 0.22 vs. 3.99 ± 0.28 days, P = 0.03) and LOS (7.62 ± 0.60 vs. 8.36 ± 0.55 days, P = 0.04) were significantly shorter in the prospective group. Thirty-day readmission rate was 6% and patient self-reported overall satisfaction was 93.9% in those who were followed up.

Conclusions:  The use of early switch and early discharge guidelines for CAP reduced the duration of i.v. antibiotics and LOS while maintaining high levels of safety and patient satisfaction.