Utility of ampicillin-sulbactam for empiric treatment of ventilator-associated pneumonia in a trauma population

Wesley D McMillian, Jayde L Bednarik, Joseph J Aloi, John W Ahern, Bruce A Crookes
Journal of Trauma 2010, 69 (4): 861-5

BACKGROUND: Ampicillin-sulbactam is guideline-recommended treatment for early-onset ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). However, intensive care unit clinicians are encountering increasing resistance to ampicillin-sulbactam. We sought to analyze the time period for early-onset VAP in our trauma population by using daily evaluation of resistance to ampicillin-sulbactam.

METHODS: A retrospective cohort study was completed on all mechanically ventilated trauma patients admitted to a rural level-1 trauma center from January 2003 to December 2008 who were diagnosed with VAP. Daily bacterial resistance to ampicillin-sulbactam > 15% was defined as the threshold for early empiric antibiotic failure for the first episode of VAP. A univariate analysis of risk factors for multi-drug resistant pathogens (MDRPs) and comorbidities was completed to assess for predisposing factors for ampicillin-sulbactam resistance.

RESULTS: One hundred sixty-three pathogens were identified in 121 trauma patients diagnosed with VAP. Of these isolates, 71% were gram-negative, 28% were gram-positive, and 1% was fungal. Methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (23.9%), H aemophilus influenzae (20.9%), and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (11.7%) were the most common infecting organisms. Daily ampicillin-sulbactam resistance was 40%, 26%, 32%, 43%, 50%, and 60% on days 3 to 7 and ≥ 8 days, respectively. Only the presence of MDRP risk factors (89% vs. 65%, p < 0.01) and hospital LOS (36.8 [22.8-49.0] vs. 25.7 days [19.0-32.5], p < 0.01) was different between ampicillin- sulbactam resistant and ampicillin-sulbactam susceptible VAP groups. On univariate analysis, hospital length of stay >4 days and antibiotic use within 90 days were associated with ampicillin-sulbactam resistant VAP (p < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS: Ampicillin-sulbactam is not an effective empiric therapy for early-onset VAP in our rural trauma population. The utility of ampicillin-sulbactam should be reviewed at other institutions to assess for appropriate empiricism.

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