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A survey aimed to describe the prevalence of antibiotic use in hospitalised children was conducted in June 2007, in Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital in Rome which has the highest annual number of inpatients among paediatric hospitals in Italy. Data were collected by reviewing medical charts of all patients hospitalised for >48 hours. A total of 412 hospitalised children were evaluated; their median age was 42.3 months, and 55.6% were males. Antibiotics were prescribed to 181 of the 412 patients (43.9%). The prevalence was lowest (37.7%) in medical wards, higher (51.1%) in intensive care units and highest (52.2%) in surgical wards. Of the patients treated with antibiotics in surgical wards, 71% received the treatment as prophylaxis. The most frequently prescribed antibiotics were ceftazidime and the combination of amoxicillin and clavulanic acid. The observed prevalence of antibiotic use was within the range recently reported from other paediatric hospitals in Europe; however, it is advisable to collect data from all over the country in order to identify priority areas and design interventions. These results also highlight the need to implement guidelines for surgical prophylaxis in children, and to further investigate reasons for prescription of parenteral antibiotic therapy in paediatric hospitals.


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