ASM Microbe
ASM Microbe
September 22, 2015
2 min read

Email alerts reduce unnecessary antibiotic use in cancer patients

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SAN DIEGO — Daily email alerts sent to physicians who treat patients with cancer significantly reduced unnecessary antibiotic use in those patients, according to data presented at ICAAC 2015.

“An automated email notification … was associated with a significant decrease in the duration of therapy for all antibiotics,” researcher Samuel L. Aitken, PharmD, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and colleagues wrote.

In November 2010, Aitken and colleagues initiated an automated email system to alert providers caring for cancer patients who had received 5 days of antibiotic therapy. The antibiotics included Cubicin (daptomycin, Cubist Pharmaceuticals), linezolid, meropenem, vancomycin and tigecycline.

After receiving the email notifications, the providers either discontinued the antibiotic or provided reason for its continued use. The average length for each antibiotic course of treatment was compared before implementation of the notification system (October 2007 to October 2010) and afterward (November 2010 to March 2015).

The researchers wrote that a significant hospitalwide decrease occurred in the average length of each antibiotic course after the program was initiated: tigecycline (–1.16 days; 95% CI, –1.54 to –0.79), meropenem (–1.11 days; 95% CI, –1.32 to –0.91), linezolid (–1.05 days; 95% CI, –1.23 to –0.88), daptomycin (–0.75 days; 95% CI, –0.95 to –0.51) and vancomycin (–0.54 days; 95% CI, –0.64 to –0.44).

Days of therapy per 1,000 patient-days also decreased for meropenem (P < .0001), tigecycline (P = .0001) and vancomycin (P < .0001), while an increase occurred for linezolid (P < .0001) and daptomycin (P = .0038). The researchers said this variability was “dependent on other factors.”

“By implementing this simple reminder system, we’ve made a meaningful change in the way antibiotics are used in a very complex patient population,” Aitken said in a press release. “The automated process has also allowed us to focus our individual stewardship efforts on other tasks while still reaching every patient in the hospital on a daily basis.” – by Will Offit


Aitken SL, et al. Impact of an Automated Antibiotic Time Out on Duration of Therapy in a Comprehensive Cancer Center. Presented at: Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy; Sept. 17-21, 2015; San Diego.

Disclosure: Aitken reports being a consultant for Astellas. Please see the abstract for a list of all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.