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The use of antibiotics in the intensive care unit of a tertiary hospital in Malawi

Kayambankadzanja, Raphael Kazidule, Lihaka, Moses, Barratt-Due, Andreas, Kachingwe, Mtisunge, Kumwenda, Wezzie, Lester, Rebecca ORCID:, Bilima, Sithembile, Eriksen, Jaran and Baker, Tim (2020) 'The use of antibiotics in the intensive care unit of a tertiary hospital in Malawi'. BMC Infectious Diseases, Vol 20, Issue 1, p. 776.

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Antibiotic resistance is on the rise. A contributing factor to antibiotic resistance is the misuse of antibiotics in hospitals. The current use of antibiotics in ICUs in Malawi is not well documented and there are no national guidelines for the use of antibiotics in ICUs. The aim of the study was to describe the use of antibiotics in a Malawian ICU.

A retrospective review of medical records of all admissions to the main ICU in Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi, between January 2017 and April 2019. Data were extracted from the ICU patient register on clinical parameters on admission, diagnoses, demographics and antibiotics both prescribed and given for all patients admitted to the ICU. Usage of antibiotics in the ICU and bacterial culture results from samples taken in the ICU and in the peri-ICU period, (from 5 days before ICU admission to 5 days after ICU discharge), were described.

Six hundred-and-forty patients had data available on prescribed and received medications and were included in the analyses. Of these, 577 (90.2%) were prescribed, and 522 (81.6%) received an antibiotic in ICU. The most commonly used antibiotics were ceftriaxone, given to 470 (73.4%) of the patients and metronidazole to 354 (55.3%). Three-hundred-and-thirty-three (52.0%) of the patients received more than one type of antibiotic concurrently – ceftriaxone and metronidazole was the most common combination, given to 317 patients. Forty five patients (7.0%) were given different antibiotics sequentially. One-hundred-and-thirty-seven patients (21.4%) had a blood culture done in the peri-ICU period, of which 70 (11.0% of the patients) were done in the ICU. Twenty-five (18.3%) of the peri-ICU cultures were positive and eleven different types of bacteria were grown in the cultures, of which 17.2% were sensitive to ceftriaxone.

We have found a substantial usage of antibiotics in an ICU in Malawi. Ceftriaxone, the last-line antibiotic in the national treatment guidelines, is commonly used, and bacteria appear to show high levels of resistance to it, although blood culture testing is infrequently used. Structured antibiotic stewardship programs may be useful in all ICUs.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: QV Pharmacology > Anti-Bacterial Agents. Tissue Extracts > QV 350 Anti-bacterial agents (General or not elsewhere classified)
WA Public Health > Health Problems of Special Population Groups > WA 395 Health in developing countries
WX Hospitals and Other Health Facilities > Clinical Departments and Units > WX 200 General works
Faculty: Department: Clinical Sciences & International Health > Clinical Sciences Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
Depositing User: Stacy Murtagh
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2020 15:14
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2020 15:14


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