Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society

Recommendations from the College of Intensive Care Medicine & the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society on end-of-life care, invasive devices, anaemia, sedation & antibiotics. The Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society is the leading advocate on all intensive care related matters. ANZICS leads the world in intensive care research through its Clinical Trials Group and patient databases, including the Adult Patient Database, the Paediatric Intensive Care Registry and Critical Care Resources.

Consider antibiotic de-escalation daily.

Date reviewed: 1 March 2016

Infection can precipitate a need for intensive care admission and can occur as a complication of an ICU admission. The earliest administration of the most appropriate antibiotic and source control confer mortality benefit. However, antibiotics are also frequently used for the presumptive management of patients with ‘sepsis’ that may later prove to not have an infectious aetiology. In most circumstances, data regarding the appropriate duration of antibiotic administration are very difficult to interpret. In some conditions such as endocarditis or osteomyelitis longer courses of antibiotics have been recommended. However, there is increasing evidence that shorter courses of antibiotics for common infections such as hospital acquired pneumonia do not confer worse outcomes or increased mortality than longer courses. Moreover, shorter courses probably help to prevent the development of antibiotic resistance. In the absence of microbiological evidence of ongoing infection and with an improvement in clinical status, consideration should be given to discontinuing antibiotics at the earliest opportunity possible.

Supporting evidence
  • Garnacho-Montero J, Gutiérrez-Pizarraya A, Escoresca-Ortega A, Fernández-Delgado E, López-Sánchez JM. Adequate antibiotic therapy prior to ICU admission in patients with severe sepsis and septic shock reduces hospital mortality. Critical Care 2015;19:302
  • Kumar, A et al. Duration of hypotension before initiation of effective antimicrobial therapy is the critical determinant of survival in human septic shock. Crit Care Med 2006;34:1589-1596.
  • Pugh R, Grant C, Cooke RPD, Dempsey G. Short-course versus prolonged-course antibiotic therapy for hospital-acquired pneumonia in critically ill adults. Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews 2015;8.
  • Australian Therapeutic Guidelines - Antibiotic, version 15, 2014.
  • Sawyer RG, Claridge JA, Nathens AB, Rotstein OD, Duane TM, Evans HL, Cook CH, O’Neill PJ, Mazuski JE, Askari R, Wilson MA. Trial of short-course antimicrobial therapy for intraabdominal infection. New England Journal of Medicine 2015;372(21):1996-2005.
How this list was made How this list was made

A working group of interested parties from both CICM and ANZICS was formed to develop a list of 12 items that they believe should be focused on to reduce the number of unnecessary tests and interventions performed in intensive care. All CICM Fellows and ANZICS members were surveyed to develop a consensus view of a final list of five items. There were 6 items clearly favoured and two of these were combined by the working group to develop the final 5 recommendations.

Download ANZICS Recommendations