Clinically relevant pharmacokinetic knowledge on antibiotic dosing among intensive care professionals is insufficient: a cross-sectional study

Lucas M. Fleuren, Luca F. Roggeveen, Tingjie Guo, Petr Waldauf, Peter H. J. van der Voort, Rob J. Bosman, Eleonora L. Swart, Armand R. J. Girbes, Paul W. G. Elbers

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BACKGROUND: Antibiotic exposure in intensive care patients with sepsis is frequently inadequate and is associated with poorer outcomes. Antibiotic dosing is challenging in the intensive care, as critically ill patients have altered and fluctuating antibiotic pharmacokinetics that make current one-size-fits-all regimens unsatisfactory. Real-time bedside dosing software is not available yet, and therapeutic drug monitoring is typically used for few antibiotic classes and only allows for delayed dosing adaptation. Thus, adequate and timely antibiotic dosing continues to rely largely on the level of pharmacokinetic expertise in the ICU. Therefore, we set out to assess the level of knowledge on antibiotic pharmacokinetics among these intensive care professionals. METHODS: In May 2018, we carried out a cross-sectional study by sending out an online survey on antibiotic dosing to more than 20,000 intensive care professionals. Questions were designed to cover relevant topics in pharmacokinetics related to intensive care antibiotic dosing. The preliminary pass mark was set by members of the examination committee for the European Diploma of Intensive Care using a modified Angoff approach. The final pass mark was corrected for clinical relevance as assessed for each question by international experts on pharmacokinetics. RESULTS: A total of 1448 respondents completed the survey. Most of the respondents were intensivists (927 respondents, 64%) from 97 countries. Nearly all questions were considered clinically relevant by pharmacokinetic experts. The pass mark corrected for clinical relevance was 52.8 out of 93.7 points. Pass rates were 42.5% for intensivists, 36.1% for fellows, 24.8% for residents, and 5.8% for nurses. Scores without correction for clinical relevance were worse, indicating that respondents perform better on more relevant topics. Correct answers and concise clinical background are provided. CONCLUSIONS: Clinically relevant pharmacokinetic knowledge on antibiotic dosing among intensive care professionals is insufficient. This should be addressed given the importance of adequate antibiotic exposure in critically ill patients with sepsis. Solutions include improved education, intensified pharmacy support, therapeutic drug monitoring, or the use of real-time bedside dosing software. Questions may provide useful for teaching purposes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number185
Pages (from-to)185
JournalCritical care (London, England)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2019


  • Antibiotics
  • Drug dosing
  • Intensive care
  • Pharmacokinetics

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