The objectives of this study were to evaluate if a strategy based on routine endotracheal aspirate (ETA) cultures is better than using the American Thoracic Society/Infectious Diseases Society of America (ATS/IDSA) guidelines to prescribe antimicrobials in ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP).
This was a prospective, observational, cohort study conducted in a 15-bed ICU and comprising 283 patients who were mechanically ventilated for ≥ 48 h. Interventions included twice-weekly ETA; BAL culture was done if VAP was suspected. BAL (collected at the time of VAP) plus ETA cultures (collected ≤ 7 days before VAP) (n = 146 different pairs) were defined. We compared two models of 10 days of empirical antimicrobials (ETA-based vs ATS/IDSA guidelines-based strategies), analyzing their impact on appropriateness of therapy and total antimicrobial-days, using the BAL result as the standard for comparison.
Complete ETA and BAL culture concordance (identical pathogens or negative result) occurred in 52 pairs; discordance (false positive or false negative) in 67, and partial concordance in two. ETA predicted the etiology in 62.4% of all pairs, in 74.0% of pairs if ETA was performed ≤ 2 days before BAL, and in 46.2% of pairs if ETA was performed 3 to 7 days before BAL (P = .016). Strategies based on the ATS/IDSA guidelines and on ETA results led to appropriate therapy in 97.9% and 77.4% of pairs, respectively (P < .001). The numbers of antimicrobial-days were 1,942 and 1,557 for therapies based on ATS/IDSA guidelines and ETA results, respectively (P < .001).
The ATS/IDSA guidelines-based approach was more accurate than the ETA-based strategy for prescribing appropriate, initial, empirical antibiotics in VAP, unless a sample was available ≤ 2 days of the onset of VAP. The ETA-based strategy led to fewer days on prescribed antimicrobials.