J Pediatr Nurs. 2021 Jul 14;60:215-222. doi: 10.1016/j.pedn.2021.06.012. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Diagnosis and treatment of early-onset sepsis (EOS) of the newborn remains a controversial issue among providers due to the non-infectious symptomology which exists in the newborn period.
METHODS: Pre/post interventional quality improvement project in a level III NICU to reduce antibiotic utilization and ancillary laboratory tests with the introduction of an evidence-based guideline for the evaluation of EOS in the NICU.
RESULTS: Primary outcome measures include mean number of empiric antibiotic treatment days and utilization rate (AUR), number of laboratory tests ordered, and incidence of unwarranted antibiotic therapy beyond the 48-h rule out period. Mean empiric antibiotic treatment days decreased from 2.94 to 1.58 days and overall antibiotic use decreased from 73.7% to 57.1%. Likewise, the mean AUR decreased from 212.5 to 147.6 days of therapy per 1000 patient days. There was an 86% decline in the number of ancillary tests and unwarranted antibiotic use beyond 48- h was reduced by 74%.
DISCUSSION: Guidelines for EOS of the newborn should include a thorough baseline evaluation of the drivers of antibiotic use to create an evidence-based foundation. Reducing unnecessary antibiotic use and EOS evaluations in a safe and effective manner have the potential to lower consumer and healthcare expenditures while improving the long-term health of the newborn in the NICU.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings emphasize the importance of implementing an evidence-based protocol for antibiotic stewardship in the NICU. With further research there is the potential to improve the healthcare of newborns while reducing expenditures in a safe, effective evaluation of EOS in the newborn population.