Hosp Pharm. 2021 Oct;56(5):444-450. doi: 10.1177/0018578720918548. Epub 2020 May 5.
Background: Diagnostic criterion for pneumonia includes clinical data and bronchoalveolar lavage cultures (BALCx) to identify pathogens. Although ~60% of BALCx are negative, there may be reluctance to discontinue antibiotics, leading to prolonged antibiotic use (PAU). Objective: The purpose of this study is to compare outcomes of subjects with negative BALCx with PAU versus without prolonged antibiotic use (nPAU). Methods: A retrospective cohort study was conducted including subjects admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU), with suspected pneumonia, and negative BALCx. Data were compared based on length of exposure to antibiotics, PAU (antibiotics >4 days) versus nPAU (antibiotics <4 days). Results: A total of 128 subjects were included, 57 in the PAU group and 71 in the nPAU group. Baseline demographics were similar between groups. Severity of illness measured by multiple organ dysfunction scores at time of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) collection to final result showed a statistically significant decrease in the PAU group but not in the nPAU group. No differences were found in ICU days, ventilator-free days, or mortality; however, length of stay was longer for PAU (23 vs. 17, p = .04). In the PAU group, there were fewer BALCx results of "no growth" (23% vs. 45%, p = .04), more positive gram stains (83% vs. 60%, p = .01) and more positive non-BALCx (40% vs. 14%, p = .01). In a multivariate analysis, factors associated with PAU were positive BAL gram stains (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 3.1, p = .037) and positive non-BALCx (aOR 4.7, p = .002). Conclusion: For subjects with suspected pneumonia and negative BALCx, positive non-BALCx and positive BALCx gram stain influenced the length of exposure of antibiotics.