In-hospital observation after antibiotic switch in pneumonia: a national evaluation

Ramesh V Nathan, David C Rhew, Cynthia Murray, Dale W Bratzler, Peter M Houck, Scott R Weingarten
American Journal of Medicine 2006, 119 (6): 512.e1-7

PURPOSE: To evaluate the clinical benefit of in-hospital observation after the switch from intravenous (IV) to oral antibiotics in a large Medicare population. Retrospective studies of relatively small size indicate that the practice of in-hospital observation after the switch from IV to oral antibiotics for patients hospitalized with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is unnecessary.

METHODS: We performed a retrospective examination of the US Medicare National Pneumonia Project database. Eligible patients were discharged with an ICD-9-CM diagnosis consistent with community-acquired pneumonia and divided into 2 groups: 1) a "not observed" cohort, in which patients were discharged on the same day as the switch from IV to oral antibiotics and 2) an "observed for 1 day" cohort, in which patients remained hospitalized for 1 day after the switch from IV to oral antibiotics. We compared clinical outcomes between these 2 cohorts.

RESULTS: A total of 39,242 cases were sampled, representing 4341 hospitals in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. There were 5248 elderly patients who fulfilled eligibility criteria involving a length of stay of no more than 7 hospital days (2536 "not observed" and 2712 "observed for 1 day" patients). Mean length of stay was 3.8 days for the "not observed" cohort and 4.5 days for the "observed for 1 day" cohort (P <.0001). There was no significant difference in 14-day hospital readmission rate (7.8% in the "not observed" cohort vs 7.2% "observed for 1 day" cohort, odds ratio 0.91; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.74-1.12; P =.367) and 30-day mortality rate (5.1% "not observed" cohort vs 4.4% in the "observed for 1 day" cohort, odds ratio 0.86; 95% CI, 0.67-1.11; P =.258) between the "not observed" and "observed for 1 day" cohorts.

CONCLUSIONS: Our analysis of the US Medicare Pneumonia Project database provides further evidence that the routine practice of in-hospital observation after the switch from IV to oral antibiotics for patients with CAP may be avoided in patients who are clinically stable although these findings should be verified in a large randomized controlled trial.

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