Trends in emergency department management of skin abscesses.Am J Infect Control. 2015 Apr 01; 43(4):336-40.AJ
Abscess is a distinct skin and soft tissue infection (SSTI) requiring incision and drainage (I&D). Previous national surveys combined all SSTIs to estimate abscess and evaluate management. We hypothesized that antibiotic rates are declining in response to evidence that antibiotics are unnecessary for most SSTIs requiring I&D.
Emergency department (ED) patients included in the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey from 2007-2010 with diagnosis codes for cutaneous abscess or SSTI were filtered using a procedure code for I&D available since 2007. The number of patients with SSTI, the percentage of patients receiving I&D, and the percentage of patients receiving antibiotics were determined. Antibiotics were characterized based on efficacy to methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
ED visits for SSTI increased from 3.55 million (95% confidence interval [CI], 3.24 million-3.86 million) in 2007 to 4.21 million (95% CI, 3.89 million-4.55 million) in 2010. Incidences of I&D rose from 736,000 (95% CI, 602,000-869,000) to 1.48 million (95% CI, 1.30 million-1.65 million) and comprised 32.2% of SSTI visits over the 4 years. In 2007, 85.1% (95% CI, 82.6%-87.7%) of patients received antibiotics after I&D with no change over 4 years. In 2010, 15.5% (95% CI, 12.1%-18.7%) received ≥2 antibiotics. Commonly prescribed antibiotics were trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (mean, 50.4%) followed by cephalexin (mean, 17.2%) and clindamycin (mean, 16.3%).
ED visits for SSTIs continue to rise. Despite mounting evidence, antibiotic use in SSTIs requiring I&D is high, and many patients receive multiple antibiotics, including drugs with no efficacy on MRSA.