Background: Appropriate antibiotic use is of both clinical and economic significance to any health system and should be given adequate attention. Prior to this study, no in-depth information was available on antibiotic use patterns in the emergency department of Hadassah Medical Center.
Objectives: To describe the use and misuse of antibiotics and their associated costs in the emergency department of Hadassah Medical Center.
Methods: We analyzed the charts of 657 discharged patients and 45 admitted patients who received antibiotics in Hadassah Medical Center’s emergency department during a 6 week period (29 April – 11 June 2007). A prescription was considered appropriate or inappropriate if the choice of antibiotic, dose and duration by the prescribing physician after diagnosis was considered suitable or wrong by the infectious diseases consultant evaluating the prescriptions according to Kunin’s criteria.
Results: The overall prescribing rate of antibiotics was 14.5% (702/4830) of which 42% were broad- spectrum antibiotics. The evaluated antibiotic prescriptions numbered 1105 (96 prescriptions containing 2 antibiotics, 2 prescriptions containing 3 antibiotics), and 54% of them were considered appropriate. The total inappropriate cost was 3583 NIS (1109 USD PPP) out of the total antibiotic costs of 27,300 NIS (8452 USD PPP). The annual total antibiotic cost was 237,510 NIS (73,532 USD PPP) and the annual total inappropriate cost was 31,172 NIS (9648 USD PPP). The mean costs of inappropriate prescriptions were highest for respiratory (112 NIS, 35 USD PPP) and urinary tract infection (93 NIS, 29 USD PPP). There were more cases when the optimal cost was lower than the actual cost (N=171) than when optimal cost was higher than the actual cost (N=9). In the first case, the total inappropriate costs were 3805 NIS (1,178 USD PPP), and in the second case, -222 NIS (68.7 USD PPP).
Conclusions: The use of antibiotics in emergency departments should be monitored, especially in severely ill patients who require broad-spectrum antibiotics and for antibiotics otherwise restricted in the hospital wards. Our findings indicate that 12% of the total antibiotic costs could have been avoided if all prescriptions were optimal.