The purpose of this work was to study usage of antibiotics, its possible determinants, and patterns of bacterial resistance in Swedish intensive care units (ICUs).
Prospectively collected data on species and antibiotic resistance of clinical isolates and antibiotic consumption specific to each ICU in 1999 were analyzed together with answers to a questionnaire. Antibiotic usage was measured as defined daily doses per 1000 occupied bed days (DDD1000).
Data were obtained for 38 ICUs providing services to a population of approximately 6 million. The median antibiotic consumption was 1257 DDD1000 (range 584-2415) and correlated with the length of stay but not with the illness severity score or the ICU category. Antibiotic consumption was higher in the ICUs lacking bedside devices for hand disinfection (2193 vs. 1214 DDD1000, p=0.05). In the ICUs with a specialist in infectious diseases responsible for antibiotic treatment the consumption pattern was different only for use of glycopeptides (58% lower usage than in other ICUs: 26 vs. 11 DDD1000,P=0.02). Only 21% of the ICUs had a written guideline on the use of antibiotics, 57% received information on antibiotic usage at least every 3 months and 22% received aggregated resistance data annually. Clinically significant antimicrobial resistance was found among Enterbacter spp. to cephalosporins and among Enterococcus spp. to ampicillin.
Availability of hand disinfection equipment at each bed and a specialist in infectious diseases responsible for antibiotic treatment were factors that correlated with lower antibiotic consumption in Swedish ICUs, whereas patient-related factors were not associated with antibiotic usage.