By Loïc Lhopitallier, Andreas Kronenberg, Jean-Yves Meuwly, Isabella Locatelli, Julie Dubois, Joachim Marti, Yolanda Mueller, Nicolas Senn, Valérie D’Acremont, and Noémie Boillat-Blanco
BMC Pulmonary Medicine. August 6, 2019.
A minority of patients presenting with lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) to their general practitioner (GP) have community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) and require antibiotic therapy. Identifying them is challenging, because of overlapping symptomatology and low diagnostic performance of chest X-ray. Procalcitonin (PCT) can be safely used to decide on antibiotic prescription in patients with LRTI. Lung ultrasound (LUS) is effective in detecting lung consolidation in pneumonia and might compensate for the lack of specificity of PCT. We hypothesize that combining PCT and LUS, available as point-of care tests (POCT), might reduce antibiotic prescription in LRTIs without impacting patient safety in the primary care setting.
This is a three-arm pragmatic cluster randomized controlled clinical trial. GPs are randomized either to PCT and LUS-guided antibiotic therapy or to PCT only-guided therapy or to usual care. Consecutive adult patients with an acute cough due to a respiratory infection will be screened and included if they present a clinical pneumonia as defined by European guidelines. Exclusion criteria are previous antibiotics for the current episode, working diagnosis of sinusitis, severe underlying lung disease, severe immunosuppression, hospital admission, pregnancy, inability to provide informed consent and unavailability of the GP. Patients will fill in a 28 day-symptom diary and will be contacted by phone on days 7 and 28. The primary outcome is the proportion of patients prescribed any antibiotic up to day 28. Secondary outcomes include clinical failure by day 7 (death, admission to hospital, absence of amelioration or worsening of relevant symptoms) and by day 28, duration of restricted daily activities, episode duration as defined by symptom score, number of medical visits, number of days with side effects due to antibiotics and a composite outcome combining death, admission to hospital and complications due to LRTI by day 28. An evaluation of the cost-effectiveness and of processes in the clinic using a mixed qualitative and quantitative approach will also be conducted.