Outpatient Antibiotic Therapy

Patients learn to self-administer IV antibiotics

A slip off of a one-foot ledge almost cost Tim Offenberger his leg – and his life. Tim and his husband were trimming bushes at a friend’s bed and breakfast in New Mexico when the fall occurred. Tim’s leg and knee were shattered. He was rushed to a hospital where metal plates were put in his leg, but within two days, Tim’s body rejected the metal.

Tim returned to Dallas and went straight to Parkland Memorial Hospital where he would be treated and eventually benefit from a groundbreaking program led by a leading infectious disease specialist.

“My experience with Parkland was incredible,” said Tim. “From day one, every issue was addressed.”

A home remedy

After the initial treatment for his leg and knee at a hospital in New Mexico, Tim developed a life-threatening staph infection that required surgery. His recovery would require 60 days of intense, 24/7 antibiotic treatment. Although he was told he might never walk again, Tim resisted going to a rehabilitation hospital.

“I’m a little bull-headed and have always told my physicians that I do not like staying in the hospital and that I can take care of things at home,” said Tim.

An innovative approach to healthcare delivery at Parkland helped meet Tim’s needs and save his leg. The Parkland Outpatient Antibiotic Therapy (OPAT) clinic trains and monitors patients to allow them to self-administer long-term IV antibiotics at home. The clinic is led by Kavita Bhavan, MD, medical director of the Infectious Diseases OPAT clinic and assistant professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Dr. Bhavan led the pioneering research to establish the OPAT clinic.

With no options for home healthcare assistance, uninsured patients like Tim historically stayed in the hospital four to six weeks for their IV antibiotics, according to Dr. Bhavan. Through the OPAT clinic, these patients are able to avoid an extensive hospital stay, go home and care for themselves.

A four-year study compared the outcomes of Parkland patients who self-administered their long-term IV antibiotics to those who had them delivered in a traditional health care setting. The results were stunning: patients who self-administered their IV antibiotics had similar or even better outcomes than those who did not self-administer the antibiotics.

“What we have learned is that empowered with the appropriate skill set, patient investment in the self-care process was both safe and effective and resulted in better clinical outcomes than standard of care,” said Dr. Bhavan.

Solid support

Tim left Parkland with confidence in his abilities, instructions from the OPAT clinic and a port where he could self-administer his 60-day course of IV antibiotics. Defying the odds, Tim was walking within the first three days at home.

“If you take control of your care and your body, and you have doctors who are there for you, you can recover at home,” said Tim.

The OPAT clinic supported Tim every step of the way, providing weekly check-ups and responding quickly to all of his questions.

“I did not have any problem with the IV antibiotics, not one,” said Tim. “The caregivers from the clinic made sure I understood what I was doing and constantly reassured me that I was fine.”

Tim’s recovery was slow and steady, and he eventually was able to get back to his favorite hobbies, including gardening and traveling. He recognizes the lifesaving care he received and does not take it for granted.

“Without Dr. Bhavan’s research and assistance, I wouldn’t be here today,” said Tim. “I have been very fortunate.”

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