Antibiotic Use in Children's Hospitals Varies Greatly

Proportion receiving the drugs while in the hospital ranges from 38 to 72 percent

FRIDAY, Nov. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Many children admitted to a children's hospital receive antibiotics while there, but the use of antibiotics varies widely by hospital, according to a study published online Nov. 15 in Pediatrics.

Jeffrey S. Gerber, M.D., of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues collected data on 556,692 consecutive discharges of pediatric inpatients from 40 children's hospitals in 2008. The researchers used the Pediatric Health Information System to analyze antibiotic use for a broad range of clinical diagnoses.

The researchers found that 60 percent of the children received at least one antibiotic while in the hospital, and these included over 90 percent of the patients who underwent surgery, had central venous catheterization, had prolonged ventilation, or were in the hospital longer than 14 days. After adjustment for hospital- and patient-level traits, antibiotic use varied substantially across hospitals. The proportion of children receiving antibiotics ranged from 38 to 72 percent and antibiotic usage ranged from 368 to 601 antibiotic-days per 1,000 patient-days. Overall, the hospitals that gave more antibiotics tended to use a greater proportion of broad-spectrum antibiotics.

"We found that the majority of patients admitted to children's hospitals were exposed to antibiotics. Individual hospitals varied significantly, however, in their use of antibiotic agents. Establishing benchmarks for antibiotic use will help to inform hospital and public policy aimed to treat children with known or presumed infections judiciously," the authors write.

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