Antibiotic stewardship in the intensive care unit

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Seminars in Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine


Antimicrobial stewardship encompasses the optimization of agent selection, dose, and duration leading to the best clinical outcome in the treatment or prevention of infection. Ideally, these goals are met while producing the fewest side effects and lowest risk for subsequent resistance. The concept of antimicrobial stewardship can be directly applied to the prescription of empirical antibiotic therapy in the intensive care unit (ICU) because it is well described that inappropriate initial regimens lead to increased mortality. As such, care should be taken to identify factors that place patients at risk for infection with pathogens demonstrating reduced susceptibility or multidrug resistance. Research efforts have concentrated on molecular diagnostic techniques to aid in more rapid organism detection and thus potential for earlier therapy appropriateness and deescalation, although limitations prohibiting widespread implementation of this technology exist. Also of great importance with regard to stewardship efforts is infection prevention. Effective prophylactic strategies reduce the occurrence of nosocomial infections and may therefore improve patient outcomes while obviating the need for otherwise necessary antimicrobial exposure. Copyright © 2011 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc.

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