INHALE: the impact of using FilmArray Pneumonia Panel molecular diagnostics for hospital-acquired and ventilator-associated pneumonia on antimicrobial stewardship and patient outcomes in UK Critical Care—study protocol for a multicentre randomised controlled trial

Juliet High, Virve I. Enne, Julie A. Barber, David Brealey, David A. Turner, Robert Horne, Mark Peters, Zaneeta Dhesi, Adam P. Wagner, Alyssa M. Pandolfo, Sue Stirling, Charlotte Russell, Justin O’Grady, Ann Marie Swart, Vanya Gant, David M. Livermore

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Background: Hospital-acquired and ventilator-associated pneumonias (HAP and VAP) are common in critical care and can be life-threatening. Rapid microbiological diagnostics, linked to an algorithm to translate their results into antibiotic choices, could simultaneously improve patient outcomes and antimicrobial stewardship. Methods: The INHALE Randomised Controlled Trial is a multi-centre, parallel study exploring the potential of the BioFire FilmArray molecular diagnostic to guide antibiotic treatment of HAP/VAP in intensive care units (ICU); it identifies pathogens and key antibiotic resistance in around 90 min. The comparator is standard care whereby the patient receives empirical antibiotics until microbiological culture results become available, typically after 48–72 h. Adult and paediatric ICU patients are eligible if they are about to receive antibiotics for a suspected lower respiratory infection (including HAP/VAP) for the first time or a change in antibiotic because of a deteriorating clinical condition. Breathing spontaneously or intubated, they must have been hospitalised for 48 h or more. Patients are randomised 1:1 to receive either antibiotics guided by the FilmArray molecular diagnostic and its trial-based prescribing algorithm or standard care, meaning empirical antibiotics based on local policy, adapted subsequently based upon local microbiology culture results. Co-primary outcomes are (i) non-inferiority in clinical cure of pneumonia at 14 days post-randomisation and (ii) superiority in antimicrobial stewardship at 24 h post-randomisation (defined as % of patients on active and proportionate antibiotics). Secondary outcomes include further stewardship reviews; length of ICU stay; co-morbidity indicators, including septic shock, change in sequential organ failure assessment scores, and secondary pneumonias; ventilator-free days; adverse events over 21 days; all-cause mortality; and total antibiotic usage. Both cost-effectiveness of the molecular diagnostic-guided therapy and behavioural aspects determining antibiotic prescribing are being explored. A sample size of 552 will be required to detect clinically significant results with 90% power and 5% significance for the co-primary outcomes. Discussion: This trial will test whether the potential merits of rapid molecular diagnostics for pathogen and resistance detection in HAP/VAP are realised in patient outcomes and/or improved antibiotic stewardship. Trial registration: ISRCTN Registry ISRCTN16483855. Retrospectively registered on 15 July 2019.

Original languageEnglish
Article number680
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2021


  • Antibiotic stewardship
  • Hospital-acquired pneumonia
  • Randomised controlled trial
  • Ventilator-associated pneumonia

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