Reducing intravenous antibiotics in neonates born ≥35 weeks' gestation: A quality improvement study

Erin Grace, Nilarni Jayakumar, Celia Cooper, Chad Andersen, Emily Callander, Judith Gomersall, Alice Rumbold, Amy Keir

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Aim: To assess the impact of the Early Onset Sepsis (EOS) calculator, implemented as a quality improvement study, to reduce the rate of unnecessary antibiotics in neonates born ≥35 weeks' gestation. Methods: An audit of routinely collected hospital data from January 2008 to March 2014 (retrospective) and from January 2018 to September 2019 (prospective) determined baseline incidence of EOS intravenous antibiotic use in neonates born ≥35 weeks' gestation in a tertiary level perinatal centre. Plan-do-study-act (PDSA) cycles were applied to implement the EOS calculator. Statistical process control methodology and time series analysis assessments were used to assess the potential impact of the PDSA cycles on the rate of intravenous antibiotics, blood culture collection, EOS, length of stay and health care costs (not adjusted for potential confounders). Results: In the study population, from January 2008 to March 2014, the baseline incidence of intravenous antibiotic use was 10.49% (2970/28290), whilst only 0.067% (19/28290) neonates had culture proven EOS. From January 2018 to October 2019, prior to implementation of the EOS calculator, 13.3% (1119/8411) neonates were treated with intravenous antibiotic and the use decreased to 8.3% (61/734) post-implementation. The rate of blood culture collection decreased from 14.4% (1211/8411) to 11.9% (87/734). There were no cases of missed EOS. Length of stay decreased from 2.68 to 2.39 days, with an estimated cost saving of $366 per patient per admission. Conclusion: Implementing the EOS calculator in a tertiary hospital setting reduced invasive investigations for EOS and intravenous antibiotic use among neonates ≥35 weeks' gestation. This can result in reduced length of neonatal hospital stays, and associated health care cost savings and may reduce separation of mother and baby.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • antimicrobial stewardship
  • early onset neonatal sepsis
  • quality improvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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