Customized Treatments Lower Treatment Time

The researchers randomized 79 patients to receive a treatment course of antibiotics either according standard treatment protocols administered by the treating physicians, or according to the decision algorithm based on measured blood levels of procalcitonin (PCT), a marker for severe bacterial infection in patients with suspected sepsis. For patients randomized to the PCT-based treatment there were predetermined “stopping rules” based on circulating PCT levels at which point investigators encouraged treating physicians to discontinue antibiotic therapy, although the treating physician retained the ultimate decision-making power.

In the analysis that included all 79 patients, the median treatment time for the PCT group was 3.5 fewer days than that of the control group, although the difference was not significant. However, once the investigators controlled for early drop-outs, previously undiagnosed infections, and patients whose physicians declined to stop antibiotic treatment when the algorithm would have dictated it, they found that patients treated by the PCT algorithm had a significantly shorter treatment time at 6 days, than patients treated according to standard protocols, who averaged 12.5 days on antibiotics.

“We have shown that it is possible to customize antibiotic treatment duration in patients with septicemia based on a reliable and robust blood test,” says Jérôme Pugin, M.D., of the Intensive Care Unit at the University Hospital in Geneva, Switzerland. “Despite the relatively short duration of treatment in bacteremic patients assigned to the PCT group, no case of recurrence of infection was observed in these patients.”

Following the PCT algorithm had another benefit: patients randomized to the PCT treatment had significantly shorter stays in the ICU than control patients—an average of three days versus five.; Source: American Thoracic Society