A 49-year-old female with a history of diet-controlled diabetes presents to the emergency department with erythema and warmth to her lower left leg measuring 8 cm by 12 cm for the past three days. The patient is neurovascularly intact, and there is no evidence of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) on ultrasound. She is not febrile, and her white blood cell count is 11,700.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 41 – No 01 – January 2022
Does the use of a long-acting IV antibiotic as part of a clinical pathway in the emergency department for patients with skin and soft tissue infections reduce hospitalizations?
Patients commonly present to the emergency department with skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs), and the incidence is increasing.1,2 These types of SSTI include cellulitis and abscesses.
Most patients with SSTIs can be managed as outpatients. However, the average length of stay for inpatient care is one week, and associated care costs are close to $5 billion a year in the United States.3 The mortality rate for hospitalized patients with SSTI is <0.05 percent.4,5
The only reason for in-patient management in 40 percent of patients was to provide parenteral antibiotics.6 This has led to greater interest in long-acting parenteral antibiotics as a possible alternative to admission.
Reference: Talan DA, Mower WR, Lovecchio FA, et al. Pathway with single-dose long-acting intravenous antibiotic reduces emergency department hospitalizations of patients with skin infections. Acad Emerg Med. 2021;28(10):1108-1117.
- Population: Adults ≥18 years old with abscess, cellulitis, or wound infection believed or confirmed to be due to gram-positive bacteria and an area of infection of at least 75 cm2
- Excluded: Multiple exclusions, refer to research paper.
- Intervention: Single dose of IV dalbavancin (1,500 mg if creatinine clearance ≥30 mL/min or 1,125 mg for creatinine clearance <30 mL/min not on dialysis) as part of a clinical pathway; intervention also included a follow-up telephone call 24 hours after the visit and a follow-up appointment 48–72 hours after discharge
- Comparison: Usual care before new clinical pathway
- Primary Outcome: Rate of hospitalization
- Secondary Outcomes: Hospitalizations through 44 days, health resource utilization (length of stay, level of care, major surgical interventions, ICU admissions), adverse events, and patient-related outcomes (satisfaction, work productivity, and quality-of-life surveys at 14 days)
“Implementation of an ED SSTI clinical pathway for patient selection and follow-up that included use of a single-dose, long-acting IV antibiotic was associated with a significant reduction in hospitalization rate for stable patients with moderately severe infections.”
More than 3,000 patients were screened during the before-and-after study for inclusion, with only 5 percent deemed eligible. The median age of participants was in the late 40s, two-thirds were male, and more than 80 percent had cellulitis.
Key Result: The rate of hospitalization was lower after the implementation of the new clinical pathway that included a single-dose long-acting IV antibiotic.
- Primary Outcome: Rate of hospitalization rate at the time of initial care
- 38.5 percent usual care versus 17.6 percent new pathway, absolute difference 20.8 percent (95% CI; 10.4–31.2%)
- Secondary Outcome: Mild, moderate, and severe adverse events were all more common in the new pathway group. No deaths were reported in the study. Details of the patient-related outcomes are available in the supplemental material (see Table 1).
Table 1: Secondary Outcomes
|Usual Care||New Pathway||Difference (95%CI)|
Up to 44 Days
|Length of Stay||3.0 days||2.0 days|