Implementing standardized intravenous antibiotic desensitizations among hospital inpatients

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Abstract

Purpose

Patient safety improvements and increased efficiencies achieved through the establishment of standardized protocols and order sets for selected antibiotic desensitization procedures are described.

Summary

Errors in the ordering and administration of antimicrobial desensitization regimens can result in life-threatening complications. To enhance patient safety, the University of Colorado Hospital pharmacy department worked with allergy and immunology physicians (AIPs) to implement standardized desensitization protocols to reduce the potential for confusion surrounding the prescribing and administration of these complex regimens to acutely ill populations such as patients with cystic fibrosis, as many as 30% of whom develop one or more antimicrobial allergies. Nine i.v. antibiotics were identified as suitable for the standardization initiative; based on AIP experience and published guidelines, therapeutic doses of each targeted medication were determined. For each of the nine drugs, the interdisciplinary team developed an instruction sheet on preparing stock concentrations and compounding sequential doses for desensitization, with a corresponding preprinted order set detailing infusion procedures, monitoring requirements, guidance on the use of rescue medications and other steps for managing adverse reactions, and patient safeguards. Initial experience with the standardized protocols indicated that relative to previous practices (i.e., physician submission of handwritten patient-specific orders, with pharmacist calculation of required dilutions case by case), the standardization initiative (1) reduced the potential for errors, (2) sharply reduced order-entry and product preparation times, and (3) helped achieve antimicrobial stewardship goals.

Conclusion

Standardized antimicrobial desensitization protocols helped to optimize patient care and antimicrobial stewardship while enabling more efficient use of pharmacy and AIP resources and fostering enhanced pharmacist–physician collaboration.

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