Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2021 Apr 16:1-7. doi: 10.1017/ice.2021.130. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Prompt diagnosis and intervention for ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is critical but can lead to overdiagnosis and overtreatment.
OBJECTIVES: We investigated healthcare provider (HCP) perceptions and challenges associated with VAP diagnosis, and we sought to identify opportunities for diagnostic stewardship.
METHODS: We conducted a qualitative study of 30 HCPs at a tertiary-care hospital. Participants included attending physicians, residents and fellows (trainees), advanced practice providers (APPs), and pharmacists. Interviews were composed of open-ended questions in 4 sections: (1) clinical suspicion and thresholds for respiratory culture ordering, (2) preferences for respiratory sample collection, (3) culture report interpretation, and (4) VAP diagnosis and treatment. Interviews transcripts were analyzed using Nvivo 12 software, and responses were organized into themes.
RESULTS: Overall, 10 attending physicians (75%) and 16 trainees (75%) trainees and APPs believed they were overdiagnosing VAP; this response was frequent among HCPs in practice 5-10 years (91%, n = 12). Increased identification of bacteria as a result of frequent respiratory culturing, misinterpretation of culture data, and fear of missing diagnosis were recognized as drivers of overdiagnosis and overtreatment. Although most HCPs rely on clinical and radiographic changes to initiate work-up, the fear of missing a diagnosis leads to sending cultures even in the absence of those changes.
CONCLUSIONS: HCPs believe that VAP overdiagnosis and overtreatment are common due to fear of missing diagnosis, overculturing, and difficulty distinguishing colonization from infection. Although we identified opportunities for diagnostic stewardship, interventions influencing the ordering of cultures and starting antimicrobials will need to account for strongly held beliefs and ICU practices.