Emergency Department Management of Patients With Febrile Neutropenia: Guideline Concordant or Overly Aggressive?

Baugh CW, Wang TJ, Caterino JM, Baker ON, Brooks GA, Reust AC, Pallin DJ
Acad Emerg Med 24 83-91 01/01/2017


OBJECTIVES: The Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Society of Clinical Oncology recommend risk stratification of patients with febrile neutropenia (FN) and discharge with oral antibiotics for low-risk patients. We studied guideline concordance and clinical outcomes of FN management in our emergency department (ED).

METHODS: Our urban, tertiary care teaching hospital provides all emergency and inpatient services to a large comprehensive cancer center. We performed a structured chart review of all FN patients seen in our ED from January 2010 to December 2014. Using electronic medical records, we identified all visits by patients with fever and an absolute neutrophil count of <1000 cells/mm

RESULTS: Of 173 qualifying visits, we classified 44 (25%) as low risk and 129 (75%) as high risk. Management was guideline concordant in 121 (70%, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 63% to 77%). Management was guideline discordant in 43 (98%, 95% CI = 88% to 100%) of low-risk patients versus 9 (7%, 95% CI = 3% to 13%) of high-risk patients (relative risk [RR] = 14, 95% CI = 7.5 to 26). Of 52 guideline-discordant cases, 36 (83%, 95% CI = 72% to 93%) involved low-risk cases with treatment that was more aggressive than recommended.

CONCLUSIONS: Guideline concordance was low among low-risk patients, with management tending to be more aggressive than recommended. Unless data emerge that undermine the guidelines, we believe that many of these hospitalizations and parenteral antibiotic regimens can be avoided, decreasing the risks associated with hospitalization, while improving antibiotic stewardship and patient comfort.

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