Empiric antibiotic protocols for cancer patients with neutropenia: a single–center study of treatment efficacy and mortality in patients with bacteremia

Eyal Kleinhendler, Matan J. Cohen, Allon E. Moses, Ora Paltiel, Jacob Strahilevitz*, Amos Cahan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background There are several empiric antibiotic treatment options for febrile neutropenia, yet there is no universally-accepted initial protocol. We aimed to assess the performance of a protocol (piperacillin, gentamicin and cefazolin) introduced over 40 years ago and compare its coverage against bacteria isolated from blood of neutropenic patients with that of various commonly used antibiotic treatment protocols. Methods Adults with neutropenia admitted between 2003 and 2012 to the hemato-oncologic departments and in whom blood cultures were taken on admission were included. Appropriateness of several common antibiotic protocols was assessed based on the susceptibility of the blood isolates. Crude mortality rates were computed by the susceptibility of bacteria isolated from patients' blood to the actual treatment given. Results In total, 180 admissions of neutropenic patients (95 in patients who had fever above 38 °C) with positive blood cultures were analyzed. The actual antibiotic regimen prescribed was deemed appropriate in 82% of bacteremia episodes. The recommended institutional protocol was used in 62% of bacteremia episodes in neutropenic patients. This protocol would have been appropriate in 85% of all neutropenic bacteremia episodes and 89% of episodes in febrile neutropenia patients compared with piperacillin/tazobactam (79%, P = 0.13 and 76%, P = 0.002, respectively) and imipenem (93%, P = 0.004 and 92%, P = 0.74, respectively). Isolation of bacteria resistant to the actual antibiotic treatment given was associated with higher mortality at one week and at 30 days. Conclusion Common current antibiotic regimens provide similar coverage among febrile neutropenic patients, whereas broad spectrum antibiotic combinations maximize coverage among neutropenic patients.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)71-76
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Antimicrobial Agents
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V. and International Society of Chemotherapy


  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Bacteremia
  • Empiric antibiotic treatment
  • Febrile neutropenia


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