Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Reducing door-to-antibiotic time in community-acquired pneumonia: controlled before-and-after evaluation and cost-effectiveness analysis


Background: Practice guidelines suggest that all patients hospitalised with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) should receive antibiotics within 4 h of admission. An audit at our hospital during 1999–2000 showed that this target was achieved in less than two thirds of patients with severe CAP.

Methods: An experienced multidisciplinary steering group designed a management pathway to improve the early delivery of appropriate antibiotics to patients with CAP. This was implemented using a multifaceted strategy. The effect of implementation was evaluated using a controlled before-and-after study design over two winter seasons (November–April 2001–2 and 2002–3). Cost-effectiveness analyses were performed from the hospital’s perspective.

Results: The proportion of patients receiving appropriate antibiotics within 4 h of admission to hospital increased from 33% to 56% at the intervention site, and from 32% to 36% at the control site (absolute change adjusted for differences in severity of illness 17%, p = 0.035). The cost per additional patient receiving appropriate antibiotics within 4 h was £132 with no post-implementation evaluation, and £456 for a limited post-implementation evaluation. Simple modelling from the results of a large observational study suggests that the cost per death prevented could be £3003 with no post-implementation evaluation, or £16 632 with a limited post-implementation evaluation.

Conclusions: The intervention markedly improved door-to-antibiotic time, albeit at considerable cost. It might still be a cost-effective strategy, however, to reduce mortality in CAP. Uncertainty about the cost effectiveness of such interventions is likely to be resolved only by a well-designed, cluster randomised trial.

  • A&E, accident and emergency
  • AMAU, acute medical admissions unit
  • BTS, British Thoracic Society
  • CAP, community-acquired pneumonia
  • CURB65, confusion, urea, respiratory, blood pressure, age >65

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Linked Articles

  • Editorial
    A U Wells D M Hansell A G Nicholson