Antibiotics are frequently used for community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), although viral etiologies predominate. We sought to determine factors associated with antibiotic use among children hospitalized with suspected CAP.
We conducted a prospective cohort study of children who presented to the emergency department (ED) and were hospitalized for suspected CAP. We estimated risk factors associated with receipt of ≥1 dose of inpatient antibiotics and a full treatment course using multivariable Poisson regression with an interaction term between chest radiograph (CXR) findings and ED antibiotic use. We performed a subgroup analysis of children with nonradiographic CAP.
Among 477 children, 60% received inpatient antibiotics and 53% received a full course. Factors associated with inpatient antibiotics included antibiotic receipt in the ED (relative risk 4.33 [95% confidence interval, 2.63–7.13]), fever (1.66 [1.22–2.27]), and use of supplemental oxygen (1.29 [1.11–1.50]). Children with radiographic CAP and equivocal CXRs had an increased risk of inpatient antibiotics compared with those with normal CXRs, but the increased risk was modest when antibiotics were given in the ED. Factors associated with a full course were similar. Among patients with nonradiographic CAP, 29% received inpatient antibiotics, 21% received a full course, and ED antibiotics increased the risk of inpatient antibiotics.
Inpatient antibiotic utilization was associated with ED antibiotic decisions, CXR findings, and clinical factors. Nearly one-third of children with nonradiographic CAP received antibiotics, highlighting the need to reduce likely overuse. Antibiotic decisions in the ED were strongly associated with decisions in the inpatient setting, representing a modifiable target for future interventions.