Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the skin and most commonly affects the legs where the affected area becomes red, hot, swollen and painful. Approximately 1000 patients are admitted to Oxford hospitals with cellulitis each year.
Cellulitis is treated with antibiotics, given through the vein (intravenously) at first and then switched to tablets (orally). Doctors decide when this switch occurs and how long antibiotic treatment should be in total, guided by the patient’s response. Research suggests that just five days’ treatment is enough in many patients. However, in practice, judging when to switch and when to stop antibiotics can be difficult. Doctors have tended to give antibiotics for longer than is probably necessary ‘just in case’ but this puts patients at risk of side effects and antibiotic resistance.
We want to describe what antibiotic treatment patients with cellulitis in Oxfordshire hospitals get at the moment. This will also help us to work out which factors (e.g. bed-side observations and blood test results) could be looked at in future research as ways to better target antibiotic treatment to what an individual patient needs. Our goal is to develop individualised approaches to antibiotic treatment decisions based on how well each patient responds.