Modeling Antibiotic Use Strategies in Intensive Care Units: Comparing De-escalation and Continuation

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Antimicrobial de-escalation refers to the treatment mechanism of switching from empiric antibiotics with good coverage to alternatives based on laboratory susceptibility test results, with the aim of avoiding unnecessary use of broad-spectrum antibiotics. In a previous study, we have developed multi-strain and multi-drug models in an intensive care unit setting, to evaluate the benefits and trade-offs of de-escalation in comparison with the conventional strategy called antimicrobial continuation. Our simulation results indicated that for a large portion of credible parameter combinations, de-escalation reduces the use of the empiric antibiotic but increases the probabilities of colonization and infections. In this paper, we first simplify the previous models to compare the long-term dynamical behaviors between de-escalation and continuation systems under a two-strain scenario. The analytical results coincide with our previous findings in the complex models, indicating the benefits and unintended consequences of de-escalation strategy result from the nature of this treatment mechanism, not from the complexity of the high-dimensional systems. By extending the models to three-strain scenarios, we find that de-escalation is superior than continuation in preventing outbreaks of invading strains that are resistant to empiric antibiotics. Thus decisions on antibiotic use strategies should be made specifically according to ICU conditions and intervention objectives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6
JournalBulletin of Mathematical Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Antimicrobial de-escalation
  • ODE models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Immunology
  • Mathematics(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Pharmacology
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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