Antibiotics are widely used in acute exacerbations of COPD (AE-COPD), but their additional benefit to a therapeutic regimen that already includes steroids is uncertain. We evaluated the association between antibiotic therapy and outcomes among a large cohort of patients treated with steroids who were hospitalized with AE-COPD and compared the effectiveness of three commonly used antibiotic regimens.
We conducted a retrospective cohort study of patients aged ≥ 40 years hospitalized for AE-COPD from January 1, 2006, through December 1, 2007, at 410 acute care hospitals throughout the United States.
Of the 53,900 patients who met the inclusion criteria, 85% were treated with antibiotics in the first 2 hospital days; 50% were treated with a quinolone, 22% with macrolides plus cephalosporin, and 9% with macrolide monotherapy. Compared with patients not treated with antibiotics, those who received antibiotics had lower mortality (1% vs 1.8%, P < .0001). In multivariable analysis, receipt of antibiotics was associated with a 40% reduction in the risk of in-hospital mortality (RR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.50-0.73) and a 13% reduction in the risk of 30-day readmission for COPD (RR, 0.87; 95% CI, 0.79-0.96). The risk of late ventilation and readmission for Clostridium difficile colitis was not significantly different between the two groups. We found little difference in the outcomes associated with three common antibiotic treatment choices.
Our results suggest that the addition of antibiotics to a regimen that includes steroids may have a beneficial effect on short-term outcomes for patients hospitalized with AE-COPD.