BACKGROUND: Neutropenic sepsis remains a common treatment complication for patients receiving systemic anti-cancer treatment. The UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence have not recommended switching from empirical intravenous antibiotics to oral antibiotics within 48 h for patients assessed as low risk for septic complications because of uncertainty about whether this would achieve comparable outcomes to using intravenous antibiotics for longer. The UK National Institute for Health Research funded the EASI-SWITCH trial to tackle this uncertainty.
METHODS: The trial is a pragmatic, randomised, non-inferiority trial that aims to establish the clinical and cost-effectiveness of early switching from intravenous to oral antibiotics in cancer patients with low-risk neutropenic sepsis. Patients ≥ 16 years, receiving systemic anti-cancer treatment (acute leukaemics/stem cell transplants excluded), with a temperature of > 38 °C, neutrophil count ≤ 1.0 × 109/L, MASCC (Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer) score ≥ 21 and receiving IV piperacillin/tazobactam or meropenem for less than 24 h are eligible to participate. Patients are randomised 1:1 either (i) to switch to oral ciprofloxacin and co-amoxiclav within 12-24 h of commencing intravenous antibiotics, completing at least 5 days total antibiotics (intervention), or (ii) to continue intravenous antibiotics for at least 48 h, with ongoing antibiotics being continued at the physician's discretion (control). Patients are discharged home when their physician deems it appropriate. The primary outcome measure is a composite of treatment failures as assessed at day 14. The criteria for treatment failure include fever persistence or recurrence 72 h after starting intravenous antibiotics, escalation from protocolised antibiotics, hospital readmission related to infection/antibiotics, critical care support or death. Based on a 15% treatment failure rate in the control group and a 15% non-inferiority margin, the recruitment target is 230 patients.
DISCUSSION: If the trial demonstrates non-inferiority of early switching to oral antibiotics, with potential benefits for patient quality of life and resource savings, this finding will have significant implications for the routine clinical management of those with low-risk neutropenic sepsis.