UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications


Elderly patients are at increased risk for treatment failure in outpatient management of purulent skin infections

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Emergency Medicine; Department of Quantitative Health Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



Emergency Medicine | Geriatrics | Skin and Connective Tissue Diseases


OBJECTIVE: Current Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) guidelines for the management of purulent skin or soft tissue infections do not account for patient age in treatment recommendations. The study objective was to determine if age was associated with outpatient treatment failure for purulent skin infection after adjusting for IDSA treatment guidelines.

METHODS: We conducted a multicenter retrospective study of adult patients treated for a purulent skin infection and discharged home from four emergency departments between April and September 2014. Patients were followed for one month to assess for treatment failure (defined as need for a change in antibiotics, surgical intervention, or hospitalization). We used multivariable logistic regression to examine the role of patient age on treatment failure adjusting for demographic variables (gender, race), comorbidities and severity of infection.

RESULTS: A total of 467 patients met inclusion criteria (mean age 37.9years [SD 14.0], 48.2% of whom were women). Overall, 12.4% failed initial therapy. Patients 65 years and older (n=35) were almost 4 times more likely to fail initial ED therapy in follow-up compared with younger patients (adjusted Odds Ratio (OR) 3.87, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 1.24-12.10). After adjustment, for every 10years of advancing age there was a 43% increased odds of failing initial treatment (OR 1.43 95% CI 1.09-1.88).

CONCLUSION: Elderly patients with purulent skin infections, whose providers followed the 2014 IDSA guidelines, were more likely to fail initial treatment than younger patients. This study suggests that there is a need to re-evaluate treatment guidelines in elderly patients.

DOI of Published Version



Am J Emerg Med. 2017 Feb;35(2):249-254. 2016 Oct 29. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The American journal of emergency medicine

PubMed ID