Study objective: To evaluate the relationship between inadequate antimicrobial treatment of infections (both community-acquired and nosocomial infections) and hospital mortality for patients requiring ICU admission. Design: Prospective cohort study. Setting: Barnes-Jewish Hospital, a university-affiliated urban teaching hospital. Patients: Two thousand consecutive patients requiring admission to the medical or surgical ICU. Interventions: Prospective patient surveillance and data collection. Measurements and results: One hundred sixty-nine (8.5%) infected patients received inadequate antimicrobial treatment of their infections. This represented 25.8% of the 655 patients assessed to have either community- acquired or nosocomial infections. The occurrence of inadequate antimicrobial treatment of infection was most common among patients with nosocomial infections, which developed after treatment of a community-acquired infection (45.2%), followed by patients with nosocomial infections alone (34.3%) and patients with community-acquired infections alone (17.1%) (p < 0.001). Multiple logistic regression analysis, using only the cohort of infected patients (n = 655), demonstrated that the prior administration of antibiotics (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 3.39; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.88 to 4.23; p < 0.001), presence of a bloodstream infection (adjusted OR, 1.88; 95% CI, 1.52 to 2.32; p = 0.003), increasing acute physiology and chronic health evaluation (APACHE) II scores (adjusted OR, 1.04; 95% CI, 1.03 to 1.05; p = 0.002), and decreasing patient age (adjusted OR, 1.01; 95% CI, 1.01 to 1.02; p = 0.012) were independently associated with the administration of inadequate antimicrobial treatment. The hospital mortality rate of infected patients receiving inadequate antimicrobial treatment (52.1%) was statistically greater than the hospital mortality rate of the remaining patients in the cohort (n = 1,831) without this risk factor (12.2%) (relative risk [RR], 4.26; 95% CI, 3.52 to 5.15; p < 0.001). Similarly, the infection- related mortality rate for infected patients receiving inadequate antimicrobial treatment (42.0%) was significantly greater than the infection- related mortality rate of infected patients receiving adequate antimicrobial treatment (17.7%) (RR, 2.37; 95% CI, 1.83 to 3.08; p < 0.001). Using a logistic regression model, inadequate antimicrobial treatment of infection was found to be the most important independent determinant of hospital mortality for the entire patient cohort (adjusted OR, 4.27; 95% CI, 3.35 to 5.44; p < 0.001). The other identified independent determinants of hospital mortality included the number of acquired organ system derangements, use of vasopressor agents, the presence of an underlying malignancy, increasing APACHE II scores, increasing age, and having a nonsurgical diagnosis at the time of ICU admission. Conclusions: Inadequate treatment of infections among patients requiting ICU admission appears to be an important determinant of hospital mortality. These data suggest that clinical efforts aimed at reducing the occurrence of inadequate antimicrobial treatment could improve the outcomes of critically ill patients. Additionally, prior antimicrobial therapy should be recognized as an important risk factor for the administration of inadequate antimicrobial treatment among ICU patients with clinically suspected infections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)462-474
Number of pages13
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999


  • Antibiotics
  • Bacteremia
  • Community-acquired infection
  • Critical care
  • Infection
  • Nosocomial infection
  • Outcomes pneumonia


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