J Crit Care. 2023 Jun 30;78:154363. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2023.154363. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: Antibiotic therapy is commonly prescribed longer than recommended in intensive care patients (ICU). We aimed to provide insight into the decision-making process on antibiotic therapy duration in the ICU.
METHODS: A qualitative study was conducted, involving direct observations of antibiotic decision-making during multidisciplinary meetings in four Dutch ICUs. The study used an observation guide, audio recordings, and detailed field notes to gather information about the discussions on antibiotic therapy duration. We described the participants' roles in the decision-making process and focused on arguments contributing to decision-making.
RESULTS: We observed 121 discussions on antibiotic therapy duration in sixty multidisciplinary meetings. 24.8% of discussions led to a decision to stop antibiotics immediately. In 37.2%, a prospective stop date was determined. Arguments for decisions were most often brought forward by intensivists (35.5%) and clinical microbiologists (22.3%). In 28.9% of discussions, multiple healthcare professionals participated equally in the decision. We identified 13 main argument categories. While intensivists mostly used arguments based on clinical status, clinical microbiologists used diagnostic results in the discussion.
CONCLUSIONS: Multidisciplinary decision-making regarding the duration of antibiotic therapy is a complex but valuable process, involving different healthcare professionals, using a variety of argument-types to determine the duration of antibiotic therapy. To optimize the decision-making process, structured discussions, involvement of relevant specialties, and clear communication and documentation of the antibiotic plan are recommended.