Prehospital Antibiotic Therapy preceded by Blood Cultures in a Physician-manned Mobile Emergency Care Unit

Vibe Sommer Mikkelsen, Mads Christian Tofte Gregers, Ulrik Stenz Justesen, Jens Schierbeck, Søren Mikkelsen

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Background: Rapid recognition and antibiotic treatment, preferably preceded by blood cultures (BCs), is a mainstay in sepsis therapy. The objective of this investigation was to determine if pre-hospital BCs were feasible and drawn with an acceptably low level of contamination and to investigate whether pre-hospital antibiotics were administered on correct indications. Methods: We performed a register-based study in a pre-hospital physician-manned mobile emergency care unit (MECU) operating in a mixed urban/rural area in Denmark. All patients who received pre-hospital antibiotics by the MECU from November 2013 to October 2018 were reviewed. Outcome measures were characterisation of microbial findings and subsequent in-hospital confirmation of the pre-hospital indication for antibiotics. Results: One-hundred-and-nineteen patients received antibiotics pre-hospitally. Six were excluded. One-hundred-and-thirteen patients were included in the study. BCs were drawn in 107 of the 113 patients (94.7% [88.8%-98.0%]). We found a true pathogen of sepsis in 29 (27.1% [19.0%-36.6%]) of these 107 patients. Nine (8.4% [3.9%-15.4%]) patients had contaminated pre-hospital BCs. Forty-nine of all patients (36.3% [27.4%-45.9%]) had causative pathogens in either their BCs or other samples confirming the pre-hospital tentative diagnosis. Eighty-two (72.6% [63.4%-80.5%]) patients received antibiotic therapy in-hospitally, while 27 (23.9% [16.4%-32.8%]) were assigned an in-hospital diagnosis not associated with infection. Four (3.5% [1.0%-8.8%]) patients died in hospital before a diagnosis was established. Conclusions: Pre-hospital administration of antibiotics preceded by BCs is feasible, although with somewhat high blood culture contamination rates. Antibiotics are administered on reasonable indications.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)540-548
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • antibiotics
  • prehospital
  • severe infections


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