The objective of this study was to determine the effects of a quality improvement initiative in which daily antibiotics and daily sampling of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) were discontinued for patients with lumbar drains.
The frequency of surgical site infections (SSIs), antibiotic-related complications (development of Clostridium difficile infection [CDI] and growth of resistant bacteria), and cost for patients with lumbar drains were compared during 3 periods: 1) prolonged prophylactic systemic antibiotics (PPSA) until the time of drain removal and daily CSF sampling (September 2013–2014), 2) PPSA and CSF sampling once after placement then as needed (January 2015–2016), and 3) antibiotics only during placement of the lumbar drain and CSF sampling once after placement then as needed (April 2016–2017).
Thirty-nine patients were identified in period 1, 53 patients in period 2, and 39 patients in period 3. There was no change in the frequency of SSI after discontinuation of routine CSF testing or PPSA (0% in period 1, 2% in period 2, and 0% in period 3). In periods 1 and 2, 3 patients developed infections due to resistant organisms and 2 patients had CDI. In period 3, 1 patient had an infection due to a resistant organism. The median cost of CSF tests per patient was $100.68 (interquartile range [IQR] $100.68–$134.24) for patients in period 1 and $33.56 (IQR $33.56–$33.56) in periods 2 and 3 (p < 0.001). The median cost of antibiotics per patient was $26.32 (IQR $26.32–$30.65) in periods 1 and 2 and $3.29 ($3.29–$3.29) in period 3 (p < 0.001). The cost associated with growth of resistant bacteria and CDI was $91,291 in periods 1 and 2 and $25,573 in period 3.
After discontinuing daily antibiotics and daily CSF sampling for patients with lumbar drains, the frequency of SSI was unchanged and the frequency of antibiotic-related complications decreased.