July 27, 2018

Background: In patients with an acute respiratory illness (ARI), it is often difficult to determine whether a bacterial infection is the underlying etiology and whether antibiotics are warranted. Excess antibiotic use carries risk of bacterial resistance, medical costs, and adverse drug effects. However, underuse of antibiotics risks inadequate treatment and progression of disease. In the setting of a bacterial infection, cytokines stimulate procalcitonin production and release. The serum procalcitonin level increases with the progression of bacterial infection and decreases upon recovery. Procalcitonin production is actually blocked in the setting of viral infection, resulting in low serum levels. Numerous studies have investigated the use of procalcitonin for the determination of initiating antibiotics as well as for aiding in decisions to terminate their use.

This Evidence-Based Emergency Medicine (EBEM) article reviews the following systematic review:

Schuetz P et al. Procalcitonin to initiate or discontinue antibiotics in acute respiratory tract infections. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2017. PMID: 29025194

July 6, 2018

Background: Community acquired pneumonia (CAP), defined as lower bronchial tree infection in a patient that has not been hospitalized in the last 90 days is a commonly diagnosed disease. There are between 2-4 million episodes per year in the US with roughly 500,000 hospital admissions (Rosen’s). Most outpatients are treated with azithromycin (or another macrolide antibiotic) as this drug gives a simple treatment regimen (single drug, simple dosing, short course). However, the efficacy of this regimen has been questioned in recent years as resistance patterns shift.

May 12, 2018

Abscess management has evolved somewhat in the 14 years since my residency graduation. The point at which antibiotics are likely to be more helpful than harmful is not always easy to assess, and evidence based expert opinion has flip flopped impressively. Based on current evidence, I would like to answer 3 big questions that every clinician may have when confronted with an abscess:
  1. Who needs antibiotics?
  2. Which abscesses need to be drained?
  3. How should abscesses be drained?

May 2, 2018

Friends, Concern regarding the Surviving Sepsis Campaign (SSC) guidelines dates back to their inception.  Guideline development was sponsored by Eli Lilly and Edwards Life Sciences as part of a commercial marketing campaign (1).  Throughout its history, the SSC has a track record of conflicts of interest, making strong recommendations based on weak evidence, and being poorly responsive to new evidence (2-6).