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Five years of outpatient parenteral antibiotic therapy with ceftriaxone in the paediatric emergency department: what clinical features are associated with need for admission?


Background More children presenting to Emergency Departments (EDs) with acute infections are now directly referred for outpatient parenteral antibiotic therapy (OPAT). Sparse data exist on what clinical features in these children are associated with OPAT failure. We hypothesised that children who were younger or presented with systemic features of infection would be more likely to need admission.

Methods We conducted a service evaluation over a 5-year period (12 September 2015–12 September 2020) at a single UK tertiary centre paediatric ED formally known as the Royal Hospital for Sick Children Edinburgh. All children referred from the ED for OPAT with ceftriaxone were included. OPAT failure was defined as a decision by a senior clinician of need for admission. Univariate statistical testing and multivariate logistic regression modelling were performed.

Results 754 children received OPAT in the ED over a 5-year period. 95 children (13%) required admission for inpatient management. Need for admission was independently associated with having a positive blood culture (adjusted OR (aOR) 8.9; 95% CI 1.49 to 47; p=0.01) or an ultrasound performed (aOR 6.8; 95% CI 3.74 to 12.7; p<0.001). We observed no significant association between age and systemic features (fever, white cell count or C reactive protein) with need for admission in our multivariate analysis.

Conclusion In children presenting with acute infections to our paediatric ED who were deemed suitable by senior clinicians to be managed using OPAT with ceftriaxone, younger age (above 3 months) and the presence of systemic features were not independently associated with need for admission. Overall, our service was safe and no child came to harm from early ambulation during this evaluation.

  • pediatric emergency medicine
  • pediatrics
  • soft tissue infections

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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