For Young Kids With Pneumonia, Timing of Antibiotic Critical: Study

Delaying treatment just a few hours can prolong hospital stay, researchers find

THURSDAY, March 31 (HealthDay News) -- Correct and rapid antibiotic treatment is crucial for critically ill young children with bacterial pneumonia, says a new study.

Even a few hours' delay can lead to a longer hospital stay, said Dr. Jennifer A. Muszynski of Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

She and her colleagues looked at 45 infants and children, median age 17 months, who had severe bacterial pneumonia and required mechanical ventilation. Children with viral pneumonia or hospital-acquired pneumonia were not included in the study.

The study appears in the April issue of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal.

Doctors treating children with bacterial pneumonia have to decide quickly about antibiotic treatment and base their selection of an antibiotic on the likely cause of infection. In the meantime, tests are performed to determine if the chosen antibiotic will be effective. If it is not, the doctor should switch to another antibiotic as soon as possible, the researchers explained in a journal news release.

Of the 45 patients in this study, 71 percent were initially treated with the correct antibiotic. When these patients and patients whose initial antibiotic was changed after testing were looked at as a group, the median time to treatment with the correct antibiotic was about 10 hours, with a range of two to 38 hours.

Overall, children who received the correct antibiotic sooner spent fewer days in the hospital. For children with pneumonia as their only medical problem, waiting longer for correct antibiotic treatment was associated not only with a longer hospital stay, but with more time in the intensive care unit and on a mechanical ventilator.

More information

The American Lung Association has more about pneumonia.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, news release, March 29, 2011

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