Hospital physicians' experiences with procalcitonin - implications for antimicrobial stewardship; a qualitative study.
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionBMC Infectious Diseases. 2020, 20:515. 10.1186/s12879-020-05246-6
Background. Procalcitonin is an inflammatory biomarker that is sensitive for bacterial infections and a promising clinical decision aid in antimicrobial stewardship programs. However, there are few studies of physicians’ experiences concerning the use of PCT. The objective of this study was to investigate whether hospital physicians’ experience with procalcitonin after 18 months of use can inform the PCT implementation in antimicrobial stewardship programs. Materials/methods. We deployed a qualitative approach using semi-structured interviews with 14 hospital physicians who had experience with procalcitonin in clinical practice. Interviews were audio-taped, transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis. Results. Physicians reported a knowledge gap, which made them uncertain about the appropriate procalcitonin use, interpretation, and trustworthiness. Simultaneously, the physicians experienced procalcitonin as a useful clinical decision aid but emphasised that their clinical evaluation of the patient was the most important factor when deciding on antibiotic treatment. Conclusions. Procalcitonin was regarded a helpful clinical tool, but the physicians called for more knowledge about its appropriate uses. Active implementation of unambiguous procalcitonin algorithms and physician education may enhance the utility of the test as an antimicrobial stewardship adjunct.