Appropriateness of Antibiotic Prescribing in United States Children's Hospitals: A National Point Prevalence Survey

Sharing Antimicrobial Reports for Pediatric Stewardship (SHARPS) Collaborative

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Background: Studies estimate that 30%-50% of antibiotics prescribed for hospitalized patients are inappropriate, but pediatric data are limited. Characterization of inappropriate prescribing practices for children is needed to guide pediatric antimicrobial stewardship. Methods: Cross-sectional analysis of antibiotic prescribing at 32 children's hospitals in the United States. Subjects included hospitalized children with ≥ 1 antibiotic order at 8:00 am on 1 day per calendar quarter, over 6 quarters (quarter 3 2016-quarter 4 2017). Antimicrobial stewardship program (ASP) physicians and/or pharmacists used a standardized survey to collect data on antibiotic orders and evaluate appropriateness. The primary outcome was the percentage of antibiotics prescribed for infectious use that were classified as suboptimal, defined as inappropriate or needing modification. Results: Of 34 927 children hospitalized on survey days, 12 213 (35.0%) had ≥ 1 active antibiotic order. Among 11 784 patients receiving antibiotics for infectious use, 25.9% were prescribed ≥ 1 suboptimal antibiotic. Of the 17 110 antibiotic orders prescribed for infectious use, 21.0% were considered suboptimal. Most common reasons for inappropriate use were bug-drug mismatch (27.7%), surgical prophylaxis > 24 hours (17.7%), overly broad empiric therapy (11.2%), and unnecessary treatment (11.0%). The majority of recommended modifications were to stop (44.7%) or narrow (19.7%) the drug. ASPs would not have routinely reviewed 46.1% of suboptimal orders. Conclusions: Across 32 children's hospitals, approximately 1 in 3 hospitalized children are receiving 1 or more antibiotics at any given time. One-quarter of these children are receiving suboptimal therapy, and nearly half of suboptimal use is not captured by current ASP practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E226-E234
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 15 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • antibiotic prevalence
  • antimicrobial stewardship
  • appropriate antibiotic use
  • hospitalized children

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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