Introduction: Febrile neutropenia (FN) remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality in Oncology/Haematology units. We launched a new protocol for FN management that incorporates risk stratification at our institute from October 2008. An audit was performed concurrently to evaluate the protocol and to define the epidemiology of FN locally.Materials and Methods: Case records of all inpatients with FN between October 2008 and June 2009 were reviewed prospectively. Clinical and microbiological characteristics were collated along with outcomes and programme adherence. Statistical testing was performed using Stata 10.1. Results: There were 178 FN episodes (50 in patients with solid cancers) from 131 patients. Forty-two (23.6%) episodes were classified as high-risk according to MASCC criteria. Initial blood cultures were positive in 49 (27.5%) episodes, of which gram-negative bacilli (GNB) predominated. Overall compliance to the protocol was 56.7%, with the main issue being disinclination to use oral antibiotics as first-line empirical therapy for low-risk episodes. Overall mortality was 7.3% and infection-related mortality was 4.5%. High-risk FN and the presence of central venous catheters were independently associated with bacteraemia on multivariate analysis, but there were no independent predictors of infection-related mortality. Conclusions: GNB accounted for the majority of bloodstream infections at our institute, unlike data from developed countries. Uptake of the new FN protocol was satisfactory, although the use of oral antibiotics as first-line empirical therapy can be improved. A better method for predicting infections caused by antibiotic-resistant GNB is urgently required, and antibiotic resistance trends should be monitored to enable the implementation of more appropriate antibiotic regimens over time.
Febrile neutropenia (FN) is considered a medical emergency and remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality in Oncology and Haematology units worldwide. A study analysing pooled FN data from 115 US academic medical centres between 1995 and 2000 showed that the overall in-hospital mortality was 9.5%, whereas pooled data from 5 large clinical FN trials organised between 1985 and 2000 by the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC)- International Antimicrobial Therapy Group (IATG) showed similar overall mortality at 8.5% with 3.0% infection-related mortality.
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