A Danish-developed IT system which can support doctors in their choice of antibiotics, can reduce the number of ineffective treatments and save lives, reports professional journal Ingeniøren (The Engineer). The new system, Treat, has been tested at Hvidovre Hospital in Copenhagen, where experience with the system shows that by using it, as many as 100 lives could be saved annually.
When a patient is hospitalised with a suspected infection, treatment needs to be started as quickly as possible – before doctors have received the results of blood tests which determine exactly what pathogenic bacteria are causing the infection. Antibiotic treatment started before the results are available is consequently at higher risk of being ineffective.
At Hvidovre Hospital around 34 per cent of patients treated with antibiotics receive ineffective treatment. But if doctors used Treat to support their decision on the choice of antibiotic in the early stage of treatment, this figure could be reduced to 14 per cent.
Co-developer of Treat, Professor Steen Andreassen at the Center for Model-based Medical Decision Support at Aalborg University says: "The choice of the type of treatment is based on an amazingly complicated calculation. The chain of reasoning is simply too long for the human brain, since it both requires that you know all the conditions and that you can keep track of all the hundreds of factors. The cold fact is that Treat makes the best decisions."
Treat has been tested in Denmark, Germany, Israel and Italy. The system has on average improved the choice of antibiotics by 31 per cent.