A cellulitis guideline at a community hospital – we can reduce costs by standardizing care

Samuel Campbell, Rebecca Burton-MacLeod, Todd Howlett



To assess whether there is: a) a clinical difference between patients with cellulitis treated according to the recommendations of a clinical cellulitis guideline, and those treated otherwise and b) a difference in the cost of antibiotic treatment of the two groups


Emergency Department (ED) patients diagnosed with cellulitis at a community hospital were graded using a 4-point scale, and physicians were encouraged to treat based on an established practice guideline. Patients were contacted 5 days after their ED visit, and again at 10 days if they had not improved by 5 days. Physician 'compliance' was defined as having followed three or more of the five elements of the guideline.


Of the 272 patients, 147 (54.1%) were classified as Grade I, 53 (19.5%) Grade II, 33(12.1%) Grade III, and 6 (2.2%) Grade IV. In 12.1% the grade was not assigned. 43.5% were treated in compliance with the guidelines, of which 83.3% reported improvement at 5 days, compared to 87.7% of those treated otherwise. At 10 days, 98.8% of the patients treated in compliance with the protocol had improved compared to 94.7% of those treated otherwise. Average antibiotic cost/patient was: Grade 1: $8.48, Grade II: $16.65, Grade II: $96.53 in the 'compliance' group, and $35.68, $51.28, and $150.18 respectively in the 'non-compliance' group.


Patients treated in accordance with the cellulitis guideline had similar outcomes to those treated otherwise, at significantly lower cost. Efforts to encourage compliance with the guideline are indicated.


cellulitis; clinical practice guideline; skin infections; soft tissue infections

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.33151/ajp.7.1.155


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The Official Journal of Paramedics Australasia © 2019                           ISSN: 2202-7270


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