Intern Emerg Med. 2021 Mar 13. doi: 10.1007/s11739-021-02695-y. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Patients with aspiration pneumonitis often receive empiric antibiotic therapy despite it being due to a non-infectious, inflammatory response.
OBJECTIVE: To study the benefits of early antibiotic therapy in patients with suspected aspiration pneumonitis in an acute care hospital.
DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study using electronic medical records from Teine Keijinkai Hospital.
PARTICIPANTS: Adults aged over 18 years admitted with a diagnosis of aspiration pneumonitis to the Department of General Internal Medicine or Emergency Department between January 1, 2008, and May 31, 2019. A diagnosis of aspiration pneumonitis was defined as a documented macro-aspiration event and a chest radiograph demonstrating new radiographic infiltrates.
MAIN MEASURES: Patients were classified into the "early antibiotic treatment" group and the "no or late treatment" group depending on whether they received antibiotic therapy for respiratory bacterial pathogens within 8 h of arrival. The primary outcome was in-hospital all-cause mortality. Secondary outcomes included length of hospital stay, antibiotic-free days, duration of fever, readmission within one month, and incidence of complications.
KEY RESULTS: Of the 146 patients enrolled, 52 (35.6%) did not receive early antibiotic therapy, while the remaining 94 (64.4%) did. There was no difference in in-hospital mortality rates between the groups after adjustment for potential confounding variables using Cox proportional hazards analysis (hazard ratio 2.78; 95% confidence interval, 0.57-13.50, p = 0.20). Patients in the no or late treatment group had more antibiotic-free days (p < 0.001) and a shorter length of hospital stay among survivors (p = 0.040) than did those in the early antibiotic treatment group. There were no statistically significant differences between the groups with respect to other secondary outcomes.
CONCLUSIONS: Early antibiotic therapy for acute aspiration pneumonitis was not associated with in-hospital mortality, but was associated with a longer hospital stay and prolonged use of antibiotics.