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Short-course antibiotics for chemotherapy-induced febrile neutropaenia: retrospective cohort study
  1. Nicola Seneviratne1,
  2. Daniel Yeomanson1,
  3. Robert Phillips2
  1. 1 Haematology and Oncology, Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield, UK
  2. 2 Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, University of York, York, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Daniel Yeomanson, Haematology and Oncology, Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield S10 2TH, UK; Daniel.Yeomanson{at}


Background Recent research in febrile neutropaenia (FN) has focused on reducing the intensity of treatment for those thought to be at low risk of significant morbidity or mortality. This has not led to a reduced burden of treatment for either families or healthcare systems. An alternative approach is to discharge all patients who remain well after 48 hours of inpatient treatment, either with no ongoing treatment or with appropriate antibiotics if the cultures are positive. This paper aimed to demonstrate that this approach is safe.

Methods Patients treated according to this approach in a single centre were reviewed retrospectively, with a random selection of patients from a 4-year period. Data were collected according to the Predicting Infectious Complications of Neutropenic sepsis in Children with Cancer dataset. In addition, all septic deaths over a 10-year period were reviewed in the same manner.

Results 179 episodes of FN were reviewed from 47 patients. In 70% (125/179) of episodes, patients were discharged safely once 48-hour microbiology results were available, with only 5.6% (7/125) resulting in readmission in the 48 hours following discharge. There were no septic deaths in this cohort.

There were 11 deaths due to FN over the 10-year study period. Almost all patients were identified as severely unwell in the early stages of their final presentation or had a prolonged final illness.

Conclusion This paper indicates that the policy described provides a balance between safety and acceptability. Further work is needed to demonstrate non-inferiority and cost–benefit.

  • oncology
  • haematology
  • infectious diseases
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  • Contributors NS made substantial contributions to the interpretation and discussion of findings and drafted, reviewed and revised the manuscript. DY had the initial study idea; contributed to the conception, design and data collection; and also reviewed and revised the manuscript for important intellectual content. RP contributed to the interpretation of the data and the structure of the report, in addition to reviewing the manuscript for important intellectual content.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request. Please contact the corresponding author if you require access to the data used in this paper.

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