Department of Infectious Diseases, Infection Control and Employee Health, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston.
Bacterial infection is the most common complication of chemotherapy-induced neutropenia particularly in patients with hematologic malignancies. Bacterial infections predominate during the initial phases of neutropenic episodes. The spectrum of bacterial infection continues to evolve globally and locally at the institutional level, as do patterns of antimicrobial susceptibility/resistance. These trends are often associated with local treatment practices (eg, use of antimicrobial prophylaxis, open versus restricted formularies, clinical pathways and/or guidelines) and have a significant effect on the nature of empiric antimicrobial therapy. Increasing rates of resistance among gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria are posing new therapeutic challenges. These challenges can to some extent be overcome by new drug development. Many novel agents for the treatment of resistant gram-positive infections have been developed and are being evaluated in clinical trials. Newer agents for the treatment of Clostridium difficile associated diarrhea are also in the pipeline. Far fewer options to treat multi-drug resistant gram-negative infections exist, and new drug development is lagging behind. Consequently, the judicious use of currently available agents is essential. This is best achieved by the development of multidisciplinary antibiotic stewardship teams that gather baseline data, make recommendations for appropriate antimicrobial usage, and provide monitoring and feedback services to clinical care providers. Along with strict adherence to infection control policies, antimicrobial stewardship provides the best strategies for the management of infectious complications in patients with hematologic malignancies and other high-risk settings.