HealthDay News – Early empiric antibacterial therapy use is high in patients hospitalized with COVID-19, according to a study published online August 21 in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Valerie M. Vaughn, MD, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues examined the prevalence and predictors of empiric antibacterial therapy and community-onset bacterial coinfections in hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Data were included for 1705 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in 38 Michigan hospitals between March 13, 2020, and June 18, 2020.

The researchers found that 56.6% of 1705 patients with COVID-19 were prescribed early empiric antibacterial therapy; 3.5% had a confirmed community-onset bacterial infection. Early empiric antibacterial use varied from 27 to 84% across hospitals. The likelihood of receiving early empiric antibacterial therapy was increased if patients were older (adjusted rate ratio [aRR], 1.04 per 10 years; 95% confidence interval, 1.00 to 1.08), had a lower body mass index (aRR, 0.99 per kg/m²; 95% CI, 0.99 to 1.00), had more severe illness (e.g., severe sepsis: aRR, 1.16; 95% CI, 1.07 to 1.27), had a lobar infiltrate (aRR, 1.21; 95% CI, 1.04 to 1.42), or were admitted to a for-profit hospital (aRR, 1.30; 95% CI, 1.15 to 1.47). There was a decrease noted in COVID-19 test turnaround time and empiric antibacterial use over time.

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“Given the potential harms to patients and society from unnecessary antibacterial use, plus the additional burden on staff use and protective personal equipment required for antibacterial administration, it is imperative that we develop strategies to help clinicians prescribe antibacterials judiciously to hospitalized patients with COVID-19,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the publishing and health insurance industries.

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