Low Sensitivity of Procalcitonin for Bacteremia at an Academic Medical Center: A Cautionary Tale for Antimicrobial Stewardship.

Low Sensitivity of Procalcitonin for Bacteremia at an Academic Medical Center: A Cautionary Tale for Antimicrobial Stewardship.

Open Forum Infect Dis. 2020 Apr;7(4):ofaa096

Authors: Goodlet KJ, Cameron EA, Nailor MD

Abstract
Background: Procalcitonin testing has been adopted by antimicrobial stewardship programs as a means of reducing inappropriate antibiotic use, including within intensive care units (ICUs). However, concerns regarding procalcitonin's sensitivity exist. The purpose of this study is to calculate the sensitivity of procalcitonin for bacteremia among hospitalized patients.
Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study of adult patients admitted to an academic medical center between July 1, 2018, and June 30, 2019, with ≥1 positive blood culture within 24 hours of admission and procalcitonin testing within 48 hours. Low procalcitonin was defined as <0.5 µg/L.
Results: A total of 332 patients were included. The sensitivity of procalcitonin for bacteremia was 62% at the sepsis threshold of 0.5 µg/L, 76% at a threshold of 0.25 µg/L, and 92% at a threshold of 0.1 µg/L. Of the 125 patients with low procalcitonin, 14% were initially admitted to the ICU and 9% required the use of vasopressors. In that same group, the top 3 organisms isolated were Staphylococcus aureus (39%), Escherichia coli (17%), and Klebsiella spp. (7%). Compared with those patients with elevated procalcitonin, patients with low procalcitonin were significantly more likely to have >24-hour delayed receipt of antibiotic therapy (3% vs 8%; P = .04), including among patients admitted to the ICU (1% vs 18%; P = .02).
Conclusions: The sensitivity of procalcitonin for bacteremia is unacceptably low for a rule-out test. Antimicrobial stewardship programs should use caution before promoting the withholding of antibiotic therapy for patients with low initial procalcitonin values.

PMID: 32322602 [PubMed]