Intravenous literature: Ho, J., Archuleta, S., Sulaiman, Z. and Fisher, D. (2010) Safe and successful treatment of intravenous drug users with a peripherally inserted central catheter in an outpatient parenteral antibiotic treatment service. The Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. 65(12), p.2641-4.


BACKGROUND: The enrollment of intravenous drug users (IVDUs) into an outpatient parenteral antibiotic treatment (OPAT) service using a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) is controversial and often avoided. The National University Hospital in Singapore has a policy of permitting OPAT-based treatment of IVDU patients with appropriate medical indications. We report on our experiences.

METHODS: A prospective observational study was conducted on IVDU patients requiring parenteral antibiotics via an OPAT service from January 2005 to December 2009. Clinically appropriate patients were screened using pre-defined criteria and enrolled into our service, where standardized measures were enforced to prevent and detect PICC abuse and optimize treatment. Outcomes measured included mortality, completion of therapy, PICC abuse, and readmission for infective or treatment-related complications during OPAT and a 30 day follow-up period.

RESULTS: Twenty-nine IVDU patients received treatment in our OPAT service (total 675 patient-days). The median duration of therapy was 18 days (range 1-85). Infective endocarditis was the primary diagnosis in 42% of cases. Two patients (7%) had recrudescent infection after absconding during their inpatient stay. These two patients subsequently completed treatment in OPAT. There were no deaths or cases of PICC abuse. Five patients (17%) during OPAT and one patient (3%) during the 30-day follow-up period required readmission for infective or treatment-related complications.

CONCLUSIONS: Appropriately selected, counselled and monitored patients with a history of being an IVDU can be treated safely and successfully via OPAT centres. It is likely that some will respond better to treatment in an outpatient setting.

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