Objective To study the quality and continuity of treatment in the Acute Medicines Assessment Unit (AMAU) with regard to empirical prescription of antibiotics, mode of administration, adherence to ward antibiotic policy, as well as collection, awareness and utilization of microbiological investigations.
Methods A prospective study over a 3-month period at the AMAU, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI), a teaching hospital in north-eastern Scotland, was performed. The study included all patients started on empirical antibiotics on admission to the AMAU and followed up until their discharge.
Results Of 1303 patients admitted, 221 (17%) were started on empirical antibiotics. This was in accordance with hospital antibiotic policy in 52% of cases. Appropriate specimens were taken from 77% of patients. Culture results showed that 29% (n=65) of the patients had clinically significant growth of organisms. Of the 65 patients with clinically significant culture results, 49% (n=32) were on an inappropriate empirical regimen. In 55%, the medication was not changed to a more appropriate antibiotic. In 72% of the patients with a negative culture, the culture report had no obvious effect on the duration or type of antibiotic being administered. Intravenous antibiotics were used in 60% of patients.
Conclusion This study demonstrates a significant overuse of antibiotics, especially intravenous forms, despite a paucity of positive sepsis parameters and chest X-ray findings in these patients The duration of treatment could be shortened and an early switch policy introduced if culture results and sepsis profiles were taken into consideration, as there was a large number of unproven infections. Suggestions are made about how these improvements in prescribing could be made within the current administrative set-up of AMAUs.
- antibiotic resistance
- intravenous antibiotic
- drug utilization review
- medical audit
- Acute Medicines Assessment Unit