Am J Manag Care. 2022 Feb 1;28(2):e35-e41. doi: 10.37765/ajmc.2022.88825.
OBJECTIVES: Procalcitonin (PCT) testing is FDA approved to guide antibiotic therapy in patients with lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI). However, its utilization and impact on real-world antibiotic prescribing behavior are unknown. We investigated the rate of PCT testing to evaluate an association between initial PCT level and antibiotic prescription patterns for patients with suspected LRTI within a large integrated health system.
STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study.
METHODS: A retrospective cohort study (January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2017) was performed in patients 18 years and older who were hospitalized with LRTI and had a PCT measurement. Antibiotic changes were noted before and 36 hours after initial PCT results. Antibiotic concordance was determined using a PCT cutoff value of 0.25 mcg/L. Concordance was defined as (1) patients received antibiotics after a PCT of at least 0.25 mcg/L resulted or (2) antibiotics were withheld after a PCT less than 0.25 mcg/L resulted.
RESULTS: PCT testing occurred in 18% of hospitalized patients with LRTI. Among 1606 patients, antibiotic concordance with PCT results was 55%. Among the discordant population, 77% of patients received antibiotics in the setting of a low PCT level compared with 23% who did not receive antibiotics at a high PCT level. There were no statistical differences between LRTI types between patients with PCT-discordant and PCT-concordant care.
CONCLUSIONS: Within a real-world environment of patients hospitalized with LRTI, PCT testing was low and the PCT levels did not appear to influence antibiotic prescribing behavior. Our findings suggest that clinicians continue to prioritize clinical judgment over initial PCT levels when prescribing antibiotics for suspected LRTIs.