Safety and cost effectiveness of early hospital discharge of lower risk children with cancer admitted for fever and neutropenia

R. O. Bash, J. A. Katz, J. V. Cash, G. R. Buchanan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


Background. Standard treatment for fever during periods of chemotherapy‐induced neutropenia includes hospitalization and administration of intravenous antibiotics until the patient is afebrile and no longer neutropenic. This study prospectively evaluates the safety and cost‐effectiveness of early discharge of selected low risk children before recovery from neutropenia. Methods. We studied 74 children with cancer during 131 consecutive admissions for fever during a period of neutropenia. All patients initially were hospitalized and received broad‐spectrum antibiotics. Intravenous antibiotic therapy was discontinued, and the patients promptly were discharged even if they had an absolute neutrophil count (ANC) of less than 500 cells/mm3 as long as they were afebrile, appeared clinically well, had negative cultures, exhibited control of local infection, and showed hematologic evidence of bone marrow recovery. Results. Intravenous antibiotics were discontinued in 82 cases (63%) before recovery of the ANC to more than 500 cells/mm3, and 78 patients were discharged immediately. None of 70 patients discharged while neutropenic but exhibiting a rising ANC at the time of discharge developed recurrent fever and required readmission. Thirty of these children had an improving localized infection when intravenous antibiotics were discontinued and completed a course of oral antibiotics at home. The estimated mean savings in hospital charges due to early discharge was $5058 per patient. Conclusions. Low risk children with cancer who are hospitalized and treated for fever and neutropenia but appear clinically well may have intravenous antibiotics discontinued and be discharged safely irrespective of the ANC, as long as their granulocyte count is rising. This approach shortens hospital stays and results in considerable cost savings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-196
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 1994


  • antibiotics
  • child
  • fever
  • hospitalization
  • infections
  • neoplasms
  • neutropenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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