Short courses of antibiotics (7-10 days) are effective for uncomplicated gram-negative bloodstream infections (GN-BSI). However, prior studies have been limited to small cohorts of critically ill patients. The objective of this study was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of short courses of therapy compared with longer courses in patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) with GN-BSI. Propensity-matched, retrospective cohort study of critically ill patients with GN-BSI. The primary outcome was a composite of 30-day mortality or 60-day relapse. Secondary endpoints were components of the composite, 30-day relapse, cure with or without adverse drug events (ADE), and ADEs. Regression analysis was performed to identify factors predictive of the composite outcome. 225 patients were included in the propensity analysis, 145 in the long cohort and 80 in the short cohort. The primary outcome occurred in 3.8% of patients in the short group and 9.0% of patients in the long group (P = 0.24). There was no difference in 30-day mortality (3.8% vs 5.5%, P = 0.79), 60-day relapse (0% vs 3.4%, P = 0.23), or 30-day readmission (20% vs 22.8%, P = 0.76). ADEs were more common in the long group (47.2% vs 34.1%, OR 1.7, 95% CI 1.04-2.9), primarily attributable to diarrhea. In critically ill patients with GN-BSI, there were no efficacy outcome differences in patients treated with a short course of antibiotics compared with longer. However, patients in the short group were less likely to experience ADE. These findings suggest that short courses of antibiotics are effective for GN-BSI in critically ill patients.

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