Outcomes of early switching from intravenous to oral antibiotics on medical wards
Hospitalized patients initially on intravenous antibiotics can be safely switched to an oral equivalent within the third day of admission once clinical stability is established. This conversion has many advantages as fewer complications, less healthcare costs and earlier hospital discharge. The three types of intravenous to oral conversion include sequential, switch, and step-down therapy. The aim of the study was to evaluate the practice of switching from intravenous to oral antibiotics, its types and its impact on the clinical outcomes. This was a retrospective observational study conducted in three Lebanese hospitals over a period of six months. Adult inpatients on intravenous antibiotics for 2 days and more were eligible for study enrollment. Excluded were patients admitted to care or surgery units, or those with gastrointestinal diseases, infections that require prolonged course of parenteral therapy, or malignancies. The study showed that among 452 intravenous antibiotic courses from 356 patients who were eligible for conversion, only one third were switched and the others continued on intravenous antibiotics beyond day 3 (P <0.0001). The mean duration of intravenous therapy of converted patients was markedly shorter than the non-converted (P <0.0001) with no significant change in the mean length of stay. Fluoroquinolones and macrolides were the most commonly converted antibiotics. However, the sequential therapy was the major type of conversion practiced in this study. Based on the study findings, a significant proportion of patients can be considered for switch. This emphasizes an important gap in the field of conversion from intravenous to oral antibiotic therapy and the need for integration and reinforcement of the appropriate Antibiotic Stewardship Programs in hospitals.