Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Pharmacy and Therapeutics


Pharmacy Faculty


Background: Bacterial meningitis is responsible for significant morbidity and mortality, but early appropriate therapy is expected to improve outcomes. National treatment guidelines were published in 2004, but no assessment of their utilization in the U.S. has been reported. Objectives: To measure adherence to meningitis treatment guidelines and describe patient outcomes in relation to recommended antibiotic and dexamethasone use. Methods: Retrospective chart reviews were performed on patients with bacterial meningitis who presented to emergency departments at two community teaching hospitals. Timing and appropriateness of antibiotic and dexamethasone use were assessed according to national guidelines. Patient outcomes of mortality, length of hospitalization, and neurological complications were analyzed based on therapies received. Results: A total of 161 cases were identified; 38 met inclusion criteria. Recommended antibiotic regimens were administered to 52.6% of patients, while 26.3% received that regimen within eight hours. Dexamethasone was used in 44.7% of patients, but was administered prior to antibiotics in only 10.5% of cases. Mortality was numerically lower with recommended antibiotic therapy but did not reach statistical significance (5.0% versus 16.7%; P = 0.33). Median length of stay was eight days for patients who received recommended antibiotics and 11 days for those who did not (P = 0.69). One patient who received dexamethasone had a neurological complication at discharge compared with four patients not receiving dexamethasone (5.9% versus 19.0%, P = 0.35). Conclusion: Current treatment guidelines provide clinicians with direction on optimal care for patients with bacterial meningitis, and an opportunity exists to improve implementation of these recommendations, which could improve patient outcomes.


This article was originally published in Pharmacy & Therapeutics; 41(7): 437-441, July 2016,