Procalcitonin Guidance Safely Decreases Antibiotic Use in Critically Ill Patients


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Am Fam Physician. 2016 Oct 15;94(8):663a-664.

Clinical Question

Can the use of procalcitonin levels to determine when to discontinue antibiotic therapy safely reduce the duration of antibiotic use in critically ill patients?

Bottom Line

For patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) who receive antibiotics for presumed or proven bacterial infections, the use of procalcitonin levels to determine when to stop antibiotic therapy results in decreased duration and consumption of antibiotics without increasing mortality. (Level of Evidence = 1b)


To test the effectiveness and safety of procalcitonin-guided antibiotic therapy, these investigators recruited patients in the ICU who had received their first doses of antibiotics for a presumed or proven bacterial infection within 24 hours of enrollment. Patients who were severely immunosuppressed and patients requiring prolonged courses of antibiotics

POEMs (patient-oriented evidence that matters) are provided by EssentialEvidence Plus, a point-of-care clinical decision support system published by Wiley-Blackwell. For more information, please see http://www.essentialevidenceplus.com. Copyright Wiley-Blackwell. Used with permission.

For definitions of levels of evidence used in POEMs, see http://www.essentialevidenceplus.com/product/ebm_loe.cfm?show=oxford.

To subscribe to a free podcast of these and other POEMs that appear in AFP, search in iTunes for “POEM of the Week” or go to http://goo.gl/3niWXb.

This series is coordinated by Sumi Sexton, MD, Associate Deputy Editor.

A collection of POEMs published in AFP is available at http://www.aafp.org/afp/poems.


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