Antibiotic consumption and ventilator-associated pneumonia rates, some parallelism but some discrepancies
Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is a common infection in intensive care units (ICUs) but its clinical definition is neither sensitive nor specific and lacks accuracy and objectivity. New defining criteria were proposed in 2013 by the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) in order to more accurately conduct surveillance and track prevention progress. Although there is a consistent trend towards a decrease in VAP incidence during the last decade, significant differences in VAP rates have been reported and are persistently lower in NHSN and other American reports (0.0 to 4.4 VAP per 1,000 ventilator-days in 2012) compared to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) data (10 VAP per 1,000 ventilator-days in 2014). In the United States, VAP has been proposed as an indicator of quality of care in public reporting, and the threat of financial penalties for this diagnosis has put pressure on hospitals to minimize VAP rates that may lead to artificial lower values, independently of patient care. Although prevention bundles may contribute for encouraging reductions in VAP incidence, both pathophysiologic and epidemiologic factors preclude a zero-VAP rate. It would be expected from the trend of reduction of VAP incidence that the consumption of antibiotics would also decrease in particular in those hospitals with lowest VAP rates. However, ICU reports show a steadily use of antibiotics for nosocomial pneumonia in 15% of patients and both ECDC and NHSN data on antibiotic consumption showed no significant trend. Knowledge of bacterial epidemiology and resistance profiles for each ICU has great relevance in order to understand trends of antibiotic use. The new NHSN criteria provide a more objective and quantitative data based VAP definition, including an antibiotic administration criterion, allowing, in theory, a more comprehensive assessment and a reportable benchmark of the observed VAP and antibiotic consumption variability.