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To assess the influence of prophylactic selective bowel decontamination (SBD) on the spectrum of microbes causing bloodstream infection (BSI).
The microbes causing BSI in neutropenic patients of a hematologic ward (HW) and a bone marrow transplantation unit (BMTU), respectively, were compared by retrospective analysis of blood culture results from January 1996 to June 2003.
A 30-bed HW (no SBD) and a BMTU including a 7-bed normal care ward and an 8-bed intensive care unit (SBD used) of a 2,200-bed university teaching hospital.
The overall incidences of bacteremia in the HW and the BMTU were similar (72.6 vs 70.6 episodes per 1,000 admissions; P = .8). Two hundred twenty episodes of BSI were recorded in 164 neutropenic patients of the HW and 153 episodes in 127 neutropenic patients of the BMTU. Enterobacteriaceae (OR, 3.14; CI95, 1.67–5.97; P = .0002) and Streptococcus species (OR, 2.04; CI95, 1.14–3.70; P = .015) were observed more frequently in HW patients and coagulase-negative staphylococci more frequently in BMTU patients (OR, 0.15; CI95, 0.09–0.26; P< .00001). No statistically significant differences were found for gram-negative nonfermentative bacilli (P = .53), Staphylococcus aureus (P = .21), Enterococcus species (P = .48), anaerobic bacteria (P = .1), or fungi (P = .50).
SBD did not lead to a significant reduction in the incidence of bacteremia, but significant changes in microbes recovered from blood cultures were observed. SBD should be considered when empiric antimicrobial therapy is prescribed for suspected BSI.