INTRODUCTION: Febrile neutropenia (FN) is a common complication of the intensive treatment strategies used in pediatric oncology. By close adherence to high-quality guidelines, which can be evaluated by indicators, the burden of FN can potentially be reduced.
OBJECTIVES: The aims of this study were tripartite-(1) to develop structure, process, and outcome indicators, (2) to evaluate the implementation of the Dutch Childhood Oncology Group (DCOG) guideline on FN, and (3) to produce baseline measures on local quality of FN care (in the north of the Netherlands).
METHODS: Seven indicators derived from the DCOG guideline were developed. Regarding structure indicators, we gathered information from all local centers providing care for children with cancer (n = 9). Regarding process and outcome indicators, we collected individual patient data from one academic and two shared-care hospitals. Children (<18 years) were included if they had been diagnosed with cancer in 2014 or 2015 and had suffered from FN.
RESULTS: Six out of nine hospitals used the DCOG guideline on FN and three hospitals used an outdated supportive care handbook. Regarding individual patient data, we included 119 FN episodes in 59 patients. All FN episodes without focus were initially treated with guideline-based antibiotics. Of all FN episodes, 18.5% resulted in intensive care unit (ICU) admittance. Cumulative incidence of death during FN was 1.74%.
CONCLUSION: Adherence to the DCOG guideline at the individual patient level was excellent. However, indicators concerning mortality and ICU admittances showed that FN still has devastating consequences. Subsequently, we will implement these indicators nationwide in order to improve FN care.