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Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases
Volume 4, Issue 5, Pages 275-278
Original Article

Containing Cefoxitin Costs through a Program to Curtail Use in Surgical Prophylaxis

Geoffrey Taylor, Edith Blondel-Hill, Pamela Kibsey, Erwin Friesen, Ronald Tisdell, and Wendy Vaudry

Departments of Medicine, Pediatrics, Laboratory Medicine, and Pharmacy, University of Alberta Hospitals, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Received 4 March 1992; Accepted 4 June 1992

Copyright © 1993 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objective: To reduce drug costs attributable to anti-anaerobic cephalosporins – specifically to reduce cefoxitin use in surgical prophylaxis.

Design: Before and after intervention cefoxitin use comparison.

Setting: Tertiary care hospital.

Participants: Hospitalized patients.

Interventions: Chart review of patients identified through pharmacy records as cefoxitin recipients was carried out to determine which physicians were the principal users of cefoxitin and the purpose for such use. These data were used to direct cost containment strategies.

Main Outcome Measures: Hospital quarterly pharmacy acquisition costs and grams of cefoxitin used.

Results: The departments of surgery (49%) and obstetrics/gynecology (37%) were the principal users of cefoxitin, and surgical prophylaxis was found to be the principal indication for use (63%). These departments were invited by the Antibiotic Utilization Subcommittee of the hospital’s Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee to draft surgical prophylaxis guidelines in keeping with published recommendations. Such guidelines were written and distributed to medical staff and substituted cefazolin for most forms of prophylaxis, gentamicin/metronidazole for colorectal prophylaxis and cefoxitin only for appendectomies. Over the following 21 months, hospital-wide cefoxitin use fell from 6093 g, $70,076 per quarter, to 1316 g, $11,515 per quarter (partially offset by a 2595 g, $9,131 per quarter increase in cefazolin use).

Conclusion: As a first step in reducing hospital costs of anti-anaerobic cephalosporins, rationalization of cefoxitin use may be preferable to formulary interchange with alternatives such as ceftizoxime or cefotetan.