BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE:

Short courses of antibiotics are often indicated for uncomplicated skin and soft tissue infections (uSSTIs). Our objective was to decrease duration of antibiotics prescribed in children hospitalized for uSSTIs by using quality improvement (QI) methods.

METHODS:

QI methods were used to decrease duration of antibiotics prescribed upon hospital discharge for uSSTIs. We sought to accomplish this goal by increasing outpatient prescriptions for short courses of therapy (≤7 days). Key drivers included awareness of evidence among physicians, changing the culture of prescribing, buy-in from prescribers, and monitoring of prescribing. Physician education, modification of antibiotic order sets for discharge prescriptions, and continual identification and mitigation of therapy plans, were key interventions implemented by using plan-do-study-act cycles. A run chart assessed the impact of the interventions over time.

RESULTS:

We identified 641 index admissions for uSSTIs over a 23-month period for patients aged >90 days to 18 years. The proportion of children discharged with short courses of antibiotics increased from a baseline median of 23% to 74%, which was sustained for 6 months. Differences in the proportion of children admitted for treatment failure or recurrence before and after project initiation were not significant.

CONCLUSIONS:

Using QI methodology, we decreased duration of antibiotics prescribed in children hospitalized for uSSTIs by increasing prescriptions for short courses of antibiotics. Modification of electronic order sets for discharge prescriptions allowed for sustained improvement in prescribing practices. Our findings support the use of shorter outpatient antibiotic courses in most children with uSSTIs, and suggest criteria for complicated SSTIs.

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