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DOI: 10.1017/ice.2023.56; PMCID: PMC10665883


OBJECTIVE: To describe patterns of inappropriate antibiotic prescribing at US children's hospitals and how these patterns vary by clinical service.

DESIGN: Serial, cross-sectional study using quarterly surveys.

SETTING: Surveys were completed in quarter 1 2019-quarter 3 2020 across 28 children's hospitals in the United States.

PARTICIPANTS: Patients at children's hospitals with ≥1 antibiotic order at 8:00 a.m. on institution-selected quarterly survey days.

METHODS: Antimicrobial stewardship physicians and pharmacists collected data on antibiotic orders and evaluated appropriateness of prescribing. The primary outcome was percentage of inappropriate antibiotics, stratified by clinical service and antibiotic class. Secondary outcomes included reasons for inappropriate use and association of infectious diseases (ID) consultation with appropriateness.

RESULTS: Of 13,344 orders, 1,847 (13.8%) were inappropriate; 17.5% of patients receiving antibiotics had ≥1 inappropriate order. Pediatric intensive care units (PICU) and hospitalists contributed the most inappropriate orders (n = 384 and n = 314, respectively). Surgical subspecialists had the highest percentage of inappropriate orders (22.5%), and 56.8% of these were for prolonged or unnecessary surgical prophylaxis. ID consultation in the previous 7 days was associated with fewer inappropriate orders (15% vs 10%; P < .001); this association was most pronounced for hospitalist, PICU, and surgical and medical subspecialty services.

CONCLUSIONS: Inappropriate antibiotic use for hospitalized children persists and varies by clinical service. Across 28 children's hospitals, PICUs and hospitalists contributed the most inappropriate antibiotic orders, and surgical subspecialists' orders were most often judged inappropriate. Understanding service-specific prescribing patterns will enable antimicrobial stewardship programs to better design interventions to optimize antibiotic use.

Journal Title

Infection control and hospital epidemiology : the official journal of the Society of Hospital Epidemiologists of America





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MeSH Keywords

Humans; Child; United States; Anti-Bacterial Agents; Cross-Sectional Studies; Antimicrobial Stewardship; Surveys and Questionnaires; Practice Patterns, Physicians'; Hospitals; Inappropriate Prescribing


United States; Anti-Bacterial Agents; Cross-Sectional Studies; Antimicrobial Stewardship; Surveys and Questionnaires; Physicians' Practice Patterns; Hospitals; Inappropriate Prescribing


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