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Antimicrobial usage in an intensive care unit: a prospective analysis.Antimicrobial therapies in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) need to be appropriate in both their antimicrobial cover and duration. We performed a prospective observational study of admissions to our semi-closed ICU over a three-month period and recorded the indications for antimicrobial therapy, agents used, duration of use, changes in therapy and reasons for changes in therapy. A change in therapy was defined as the initiation or discontinuation of an antimicrobial agent. There were 51 patients admitted during the three-month study period and all received antimicrobial therapy. There were 135 changes in antimicrobial therapy. 89 (66%) were made by the ICU team and 32 (24%) were made by the primary team. Changes were made due to a deterioration or lack of clinical response in 41 (30%) cases, due to the completion of prescribed course in 36 (27%) cases, and in response to a sensitivity result in 25 (19%) cases. Prophylactic antibiotic courses (n=24) were of a duration greater than 24 hours in 15 (63%) instances. In conclusion, the majority of changes in antimicrobial therapy were not culture-based and the duration of surgical prophylaxis was in excess of current recommended guidelines.