Aggressive Antimicrobial Initiation for Suspected Intensive Care Unit-Acquired Infection Is Associated with Decreased Long-Term Survival after Critical Illness

Christopher A. Guidry, Tjasa Hranjec, Puja M. Shah, Zachary C. Dietch, Taryn E. Hassinger, Nathan R. Elwood, Robert G. Sawyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: The long-term significance of early and prolonged antibiotic use in critically ill patients is yet to be described. Several studies suggest that antimicrobial exposure may have as yet unrecognized long-term effects on clinically meaningful outcomes. Our group previously conducted a quasi-experimental, before and after observational cohort study of hemodynamically stable surgical patients suspected of having an intensive care unit-acquired infection. This study demonstrated that aggressive initiation of antimicrobial therapy was associated with increased 30-day deaths. In a follow-up survival analysis, we hypothesized that aggressive antimicrobial treatment would not be a significant predictor of long-term death. Methods: Survival data for the 201 patients included in the initial study were obtained from our clinical data repository. Univariable analysis, Kaplan-Meier, and Cox proportional hazards models were used. Survival was evaluated at one and four years. Age, gender, Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II score, and co-morbidities were chosen a priori for potential inclusion in the model. Variables that met the model assumptions after testing were included in the final model. Results: Follow-up data were available for 190 patients (95 in each group) representing 94.5% of the initial cohort. Twenty-four (25.3%) patients in the aggressive group had initial APACHE II scores of less than 15 compared with 13 (13.7%) patients in the conservative group (p = 0.04). There was a trend toward higher deaths in the aggressive group at four years (41.1% vs. 30.5%; p = 0.13). Kaplan-Meier analysis demonstrated a difference in survival at one year but not at four years. The Cox proportional hazards model showed a higher long-term death for patients in the aggressive antimicrobial group at both one and four years (hazard rate: 2.26 and 1.70, respectively). Conclusion: Aggressive initiation of antimicrobial therapy is independently associated with decreased long-term survival after critical illness. While further work is needed to confirm these findings, waiting for evidence of infection before initiation of antibiotic agents may be beneficial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)664-669
Number of pages6
JournalSurgical Infections
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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