Prospective surveillance of antibiotic use in the neonatal intensive care unit: Results from the SCOUT study

Joseph B. Cantey, Phillip S. Wozniak, Pablo J. Sánchez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations


Background: Prolonged or unnecessary antibiotic use is associated with adverse outcomes in neonates. Our objectives were to quantify all antibiotic use in a Level-III neonatal intensive care unit and to identify scenarios where their use could be reduced. Methods: Surveillance and evaluation of all antibiotic use provided to every infant admitted to a Level-III neonatal intensive care unit from 10/3/11 to 11/30/12 was performed. Types of antibiotics, reasons for their initiation, discontinuation and duration, as well as clinical, laboratory and outcome data were recorded. Antibiotic use was quantified by days of therapy (DOT) per 1000 patient-days (PD). Results: A total of 1607 infants were included. The total antibiotic use was 9165 DOT (343.2 DOT/1000 PD; 5.7 DOT/infant). Seventy-two percent of infants received 1 (43%) or more (29%) courses of antibiotics. Gentamicin (46%), ampicillin (39%) and oxacillin (8%) were the most frequently used agents. Ninety-four percent of antibiotic use (323 DOT/1000 PD) was empiric therapy for suspected infection. Sixty-three percent (216.2 DOT/1000 PD) was discontinued at approximately 48 hours when cultures were sterile (68% >48 hours, 32% ≤48 hours). Twenty-six percent of all antibiotic use (89.4 DOT/1000 PD) was therapy for ≥5 days despite sterile cultures; pneumonia (16%) and "culture-negative" sepsis (8%) were the major contributors. Five percent (17.4 DOT/1000 PD) of antibiotic use was for culture-proven sepsis, 5% (16.6 DOT/1000 PD) was penicillin prophylaxis for group B Streptococcus and 1% (3.5 DOT/1000 PD) was preprocedural prophylaxis. Conclusions: Narrow-spectrum therapy accounted for >92% of antibiotic use and would not be monitored by most stewardship programs. Only 5% of antibiotic usage was due to culture-proven infection. Pneumonia and "culture-negative" sepsis were frequent reasons for prolonged therapy; further study of these conditions may allow reduction in treatment duration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-272
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Infectious Disease Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 4 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Neonate
  • Stewardship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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