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Antimicrobial drugs in critical illness 

Antimicrobial drugs in critical illness
Antimicrobial drugs in critical illness

A. P. R. Wilson

and Preet Panesar

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date: 19 May 2022

The pharmacokinetics of antimicrobials are altered in critically-ill patients, particularly in the presence of renal or hepatic failure. Maintaining a choice or diversity of antibiotics is important due to the emergence of resistance. Antibiotic use should also be kept to the minimum and local protocols need to be established. For community-acquired infection, co-amoxiclav or a parenteral cephalosporin can be used, while for hospital-acquired infection, piperacillin/tazobactam, ciprofloxacin, or ceftazidime are recommended. For suspected vascular catheter infection or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection, teicoplanin or vancomycin should be used, with meropenem or imipenem reserved for second line treatment. Prophylactic antibiotics should not be continued once a surgical patient has returned from the theatre. Patients with febrile neutropenia receive piptazobactam, meropenem, ceftazidime or ciprofloxacin and a glycopeptide. Antifungals, usually caspofungin or liposomal amphotericin, are used if fungal infection is suspected, especially after failed antibacterial treatment. Cephalosporin use has declined as they have been linked with emergence of MRSA and Clostridium difficile. However, this reflects overuse and they still have a place as part of a diverse choice of antibiotics. Vancomycin and teicoplanin use has increased greatly in order to treat MRSA and line infections, but resistance remains unusual. Carbapenem use has increased rapidly with the emergence of extended spectrum beta-lactamase producing Gram-negative bacteria.

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