Nurse-initiated pre-prescribed antibiotic orders to facilitate prompt and appropriate antibiotic administration in febrile neutropenia

Steven T. Walker, Samuel Grigg, Carl Kirkpatrick, Karen Urbancic, Emma Cohen, Andrew Grigg, Jason Trubiano

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Purpose: To assess the impact of a pathway allowing nurse initiation of first dose intravenous (IV) antibiotics on time to antibiotic administration (TTA) in adult inpatients with febrile neutropenia (FN). 

Methods: This study evaluated the impact on TTA of a clinical pathway (November 2017 to April 2018) allowing nurse initiation of pre-prescribed antibiotics in adult haematology patients with FN, compared with a prior cohort (November 2016 to April 2017) in which antibiotics were only prescribed and administered after medical review. The primary endpoint for comparison was TTA, calculated as the time between the first recorded fever and IV antibiotic administration. Secondary endpoints included appropriateness of initial antibiotic choice, 30-day all-cause mortality and admission to intensive care unit (ICU). 

Results: Forty-seven eligible FN episodes in 40 patients and 61 episodes in 52 patients were evaluated in the pre- and post-implementation groups, respectively. Baseline characteristics were comparable between groups. Median (IQR) TTA, in the pre-implementation group [66 min (40–100 min)] was significantly prolonged versus post-implementation group [29 min (20–41 min); p < 0.001]. A significantly higher proportion of episodes were administered appropriate initial antibiotics in the post-versus pre-implementation groups (100% vs. 89%, p = 0.03). There was no significant change in 30-day all-cause mortality (0% vs. 5%, p = 0.3) or ICU admission within 48 h of fever (0% vs. 2%, p > 0.99) between pre- and post-implementation groups, respectively. 

Conclusions: A pathway allowing nurse initiation of pre-prescribed antibiotic orders for FN significantly reduced TTA from first recorded fever and increased the proportion of appropriate initial antibiotic choices without significantly impacting on patient outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4337–4343
Number of pages7
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2020


  • Febrile neutropenia
  • Haematology
  • Nurse-initiated antibiotics
  • Time to antibiotic administration

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