Procalcitonin (PCT) is a biomarker used as an indicator for inflammation and bacterial infections. In October 2018, our PICU implemented a PCT monitoring protocol incorporating cutoffs established in previous studies to help guide antibiotic decision-making in patients undergoing sepsis evaluation. The study objective was to evaluate adherence to the protocol with regard to PCT monitoring and antibiotic use.
This retrospective review included PICU patients with systemic inflammatory response syndrome ages > 1 month to 18 years with at least 1 PCT level and blood culture obtained during the 9 months following protocol implementation. Patients were excluded if they received < 48 hours of antibiotic therapy, were neutropenic, or had antibiotics initiated at another hospital. Patients were evaluated for protocol adherence, defined as antibiotic continuation or discontinuation per protocol guidance without excess PCT monitoring. Descriptive statistics were employed.
Out of 100 patients evaluated, 50 patients were included. Full adherence was observed in 17 patients (34%). Reasons for non-adherence were excess PCT monitoring (54.5%), antibiotic continuation (30.3%), or both (15.2%). Of patients who were non-adherent due to antibiotic continuation, 61.5% had a positive respiratory viral panel (RVP). A total of 49 excess PCT levels were drawn, resulting in an additional $2,000 in health care costs and $15,000 in patient charges.
Overall, the impact of our PCT monitoring protocol was difficult to evaluate due to non-adherence, but it highlights potential areas of focus for improving PCT monitoring and antimicrobial stewardship, such as inclusion of RVP results.