Treatment of urinary tract infections among febrile young children with daily intravenous antibiotic therapy at a day treatment center

Marie Gauthier, Isabelle Chevalier, Anca Sterescu, Sylvie Bergeron, Suzanne Brunet, Danielle Taddeo
Pediatrics 2004, 114 (4): e469-76

OBJECTIVE: Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common among infants and toddlers. Children can be treated effectively with short courses (2-4 days) of intravenous (IV) therapy followed by oral therapy. If IV therapy is chosen, use of once-daily dosing may allow outpatient management instead of hospital admission. However, no description of ambulatory treatment with IV antibiotics of UTI among febrile children has been reported to date. We aimed to describe the feasibility and complications of outpatient management with IV antibiotics of UTI among febrile children, at the day treatment center (DTC) of a tertiary-care pediatric hospital.

METHODS: Between April 1, 2002, and March 31, 2003, a prospective cohort of patients 3 months to 5 years of age who were examined in the emergency department (ED) and diagnosed as having presumed febrile UTI were treated according to a clinical protocol. Patients were treated at the DTC unless they met exclusion criteria, in which case they were hospitalized. The DTC was open 7 days per week, including holidays, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. At the DTC, patients were initially treated with a daily dose of IV gentamicin, until the child had been afebrile for at least 24 hours, and with oral amoxicillin, until preliminary urine culture results were available. Children allergic to penicillin received gentamicin only. IV antibiotics were administered through peripheral IV access; the IV catheter's patency was maintained with injection of 50 U of heparin once daily throughout the treatment period. Parental satisfaction with the DTC experience was assessed with an anonymous, self-administered questionnaire.

RESULTS: Two hundred ninety-one episodes of presumed febrile UTI were diagnosed in the ED, of which 212 (72.9%) were sent to the DTC. There were 71 hospital admissions (24.4%); in 9 of these instances, the child was admitted because parents refused or were unable to comply with DTC treatment. Adherence to the treatment protocol in the ED was excellent; in 92.1% of presumed febrile UTI episodes (268 of 291 episodes), the patient was referred to the appropriate setting for treatment. In 8 instances, patients who met an exclusion criterion were sent to the DTC. They should have been hospitalized, according to the protocol. At the DTC, a final diagnosis of UTI was made in 178 of the 212 episodes (84%). Patients treated at the DTC, with a final diagnosis of UTI, had a median age of 12.0 months (range: 3-68 months), and their mean initial temperature was 39.2 degrees C (SD: 1.1 degrees C). Patients were afebrile by 24 hours in 52% of UTI episodes and by 48 hours in 82%. Minor problems with IV access occurred in 9.0% of cases. The duration of IV antibiotic therapy at the DTC was 1.9 days (SD: 0.9 day). The mean number of visits to the DTC, including appointments for renal ultrasound and voiding cystourethrography evaluations, was 3.5 (SD: 0.9). Parents were present at all scheduled visits in 98.9% of cases. Four patients needed to be hospitalized from the DTC, but in only 1 case was hospital admission related to UTI treatment. Four patients with UTI treated in the DTC had positive blood cultures, 2 with Escherichia coli (both successfully treated at the DTC) and 2 with contaminants. For 4 children treated at the DTC, UTI was caused by gentamicin-resistant E coli. One patient became afebrile within 24 hours after treatment initiation with IV gentamicin; he was then treated with oral cefixime. A second patient was treated with IV ceftriaxone, administered at the DTC once culture results were available, and remained febrile for <72 hours. The last 2 patients were hospitalized; one, who was also allergic to cephalosporins, had been febrile for 72 hours at the time of hospitalization (once hospitalized, he was treated with IV amikacin), and the other was admitted to the hospital for an unrelated problem, namely, scalp cellulitis. None of these 4 patients was initially bacteremic or became bacteremic during the treatment period. Repeat urine culture was performed within 14 days after treatment initiation in 146 instances, and results were negative in all cases. At telephone follow-up assessments 14 days after discharge, no patient had been rehospitalized because of UTI. Successful treatment at the DTC (defined as attendance at all visits, normalization of temperature within 96 hours, negative control urine cultures, if performed, and absence of hospitalization from the DTC) was observed in 96.6% of the 178 UTI episodes. Overall adherence of physicians to the protocol at the DTC was 87.1% (95% confidence interval: 82.2-92.0%). One hundred seventy-two satisfaction questionnaires were returned and revealed good, very good, or excellent parental satisfaction in 98.8% of cases.

CONCLUSIONS: Our data show that ambulatory treatment with IV antibiotics, at a DTC, may be used for at least three-fourths of UTIs among febrile children 3 months to 5 years of age. It is safe and feasible and appears very satisfactory to parents. Although ambulatory treatment with IV antibiotics is more invasive than oral therapy during the initiation of UTI treatment, it ensures almost full compliance, allows close medical supervision, and facilitates investigations related to the UTI. It is an interesting alternative to hospitalization.

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