A cluster randomized stepped-wedge trial to de-implement unnecessary post-operative antibiotics in children: the optimizing perioperative antibiotic in children (OPerAtiC) trial

Sara Malone, Virginia R. McKay, Christina Krucylak, Byron J. Powell, Jingxia Liu, Cindy Terrill, Jacqueline M. Saito, Shawn J. Rangel, Jason G. Newland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Antibiotic-resistant infections have become a public health crisis that is driven by the inappropriate use of antibiotics. In the USA, antibiotic stewardship programs (ASP) have been established and are required by regulatory agencies to help combat the problem of antibiotic resistance. Post-operative antibiotic use in surgical cases deemed low-risk for infection is an area with significant overuse of antibiotics in children. Consensus among leading public health organizations has led to guidelines eliminating post-operative antibiotics in low-risk surgeries. However, the best strategies to de-implement these inappropriate antibiotics in this setting are unknown. Methods/design: A 3-year stepped wedge cluster randomized trial will be conducted at nine US Children’s Hospitals to assess the impact of two de-implementation strategies, order set change and facilitation training, on inappropriate post-operative antibiotic prescribing in low risk (i.e., clean and clean-contaminated) surgical cases. The facilitation training will amplify order set changes and will involve a 2-day workshop with antibiotic stewardship teams. This training will be led by an implementation scientist expert (VRM) and a pediatric infectious diseases physician with antibiotic stewardship expertise (JGN). The primary clinical outcome will be the percentage of surgical cases receiving unnecessary post-operative antibiotics. Secondary clinical outcomes will include the rate of surgical site infections and the rate of Clostridioides difficile infections, a common negative consequence of antibiotic use. Monthly semi-structured interviews at each hospital will assess the implementation process of the two strategies. The primary implementation outcome is penetration, which will be defined as the number of order sets changed or developed by each hospital during the study. Additional implementation outcomes will include the ASP team members’ assessment of the acceptability, appropriateness, and feasibility of each strategy while they are being implemented. Discussion: This study will provide important information on the impact of two potential strategies to de-implement unnecessary post-operative antibiotic use in children while assessing important clinical outcomes. As more unnecessary medical practices are identified, de-implementation strategies, including facilitation, need to be rigorously evaluated. Along with this study, other rigorously designed studies evaluating additional strategies are needed to further advance the burgeoning field of de-implementation. Trial registration: NCT04366440. Registered April 28, 2020, https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04366440.

Original languageEnglish
Article number29
JournalImplementation Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Antibiotic stewardship
  • Cluster randomized stepped-wedge trial
  • De-implementation
  • Facilitation


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