• outpatient parenteral antibiotic therapy;
  • Hospital in the Home;
  • osteoarticular infection;
  • bone and joint infection


Background: Osteoarticular infections are a primary indication for outpatient parenteral antimicrobial therapy (OPAT). The climate and geographical diversity of tropical Australia, together with the prevalence of melioidosis, disseminated gonococcal disease and community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus renders this a challenging environment in which to manage such infections. We evaluated patients managed by the Royal Darwin Hospital Hospital in the Home service for bone and joint infections.

Methods: A retrospective analysis of the therapeutic outcomes at the end of intravenous therapy was carried out for patients treated between 1 January 2006 and 15 September 2007.

Results: Fifty-five patients were treated, including 21 (38%) indigenous Australians and 18 (33%) from remote communities. Baseline characteristics were similar to other published data, but there were two cases each of gonococcal septic arthritis and melioidosis. During treatment, 39 (71%) lived at home, with five (9%) of these receiving treatment at community clinics. Thirteen (24%) resided in self-care units in the hospital grounds. Three (5%) were managed at hostels or in prison. Median duration of parenteral therapy was 42 days, with a median of 22 days outside hospital, providing a total saving of 1307 bed-days. Clinical success at end of therapy was 84%, with no significant difference between indigenous and non-indigenous cohorts.

Conclusion: OPAT for osteoarticular infections is both feasible and effective in a tropical environment, including for indigenous patients. Extension of treatment to remote-dwelling patients is facilitated by the innovative use of self-care units and administration of treatment at remote clinics.