MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
David T. Huang, MD, MPH
Associate Professor, Critical Care Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Clinical and Translational Science
Director, MACRO (Multidisciplinary Acute Care Research Organization)
Director, CRISMA Administrative Core (Clinical Research, Investigation, and Systems Modeling of Acute illness)
University of Pittsburgh
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: The overuse of antibiotics has become a serious threat to global public health, causing antibiotic resistance and increasing health care costs. Physicians have long known that antibiotics are usually unnecessary for acute bronchitis and for some other cases of lower respiratory tract infections, and that antibiotics treat only bacterial infections, not viral. But in daily practice, many physicians often prescribe them.
Previous research had reported that using a biomarker blood test and following an antibiotic guideline tied to the test results could reduce antibiotic use in lower respiratory tract infections. In February 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the biomarker test that measures procalcitonin – a peptide that typically increases in bacterial infections, but not viral.
We conducted the Procalcitonin Antibiotic Consensus Trial (ProACT) trial to evaluate whether a procalcitonin antibiotic prescribing guideline, implemented for the treatment of suspected lower respiratory tract infection with reproducible strategies, would result in less exposure to antibiotics than usual care, without a significantly higher rate of adverse events.
The ProACT trial involved 14 predominately urban academic hospitals. We enrolled 1,656 adult patients who presented to the hospital emergency department and were initially diagnosed with a lower respiratory tract infection. All the patients were tested for their procalcitonin levels, but the results were shared only with the physicians of the patients randomly assigned to procalcitonin-guided antibiotic prescription.