Empiric antibiotic therapy for presumed urinary tract infection (UTI) leads to unnecessary antibiotic exposure in many children whose urine culture results fail to confirm the diagnosis. The objective of this quality improvement study was to improve follow-up management of negative urine culture results in the off-campus urgent care network of Nationwide Children’s Hospital to reduce inappropriate antibiotic exposure in children.
A multidisciplinary task force developed and implemented a protocol for routine nurse and clinician follow-up of urine culture results, discontinuation of unnecessary antibiotics, and documentation in the electronic medical record. Monthly antibiotic discontinuation rates were tracked in empirically treated patients with negative urine culture results from July 2013 through December 2015. Statistical process control methods were used to track improvement over time. Fourteen-day return visits for UTIs were monitored as a balancing measure.
During the study period, 910 patients received empiric antibiotic therapy for UTIs but had a negative urine culture result. The antibiotic discontinuation rate increased from 4% to 84%, avoiding 3429 (40%) of 8648 antibiotic days prescribed. Among patients with discontinued antibiotics, none was diagnosed with a UTI within 14 days of the initial urgent care encounter.
Implementation of a standard protocol for urine culture follow-up and discontinuation of unnecessary antibiotics was both effective and safe in a high-volume pediatric urgent care network. Urine culture follow-up management is an essential opportunity for improved antimicrobial stewardship in the outpatient setting that will affect many patients by avoiding a substantial number of antibiotic days.