Feasibility of outpatient management of fever in cancer patients with low-risk neutropenia: results of a prospective randomized trial

Document Type



Internal Medicine


Purpose: We recently demonstrated the efficacy of single-agent oral ofloxacin in the management of hospitalized neutropenic febrile patients. Ofloxacin was particularly effective in patients with short duration of neutropenia and fever of undetermined origin. These results prompted us to study the feasibility of outpatient management of neutropenic febrile patients who are otherwise at low risk of morbidity and mortality.PATIENTS AND Methods: This multi-institutional, prospective, randomized trial included 182 low-risk neutropenic febrile episodes. After an initial work-up for fever, patients were randomized to receive oral ofloxacin 400 mg immediately and twice daily thereafter in the hospital or as outpatients. Close monitoring and follow-up were carried out in all patients. Those who failed to respond and remained febrile were given parenteral antibiotics. Nonresponding outpatients were admitted to the hospital for parenteral therapy.Results: One hundred sixty-nine episodes were evaluable. The hospital and outpatient treatment groups had comparable clinical characteristics. Pyrexias of undetermined origin (PUO) comprised 69% of episodes managed in hospital and 73% of episodes treated outside. The success rate with PUO was similar with inpatient and outpatient management. Patients with clinical and microbiologic infections fared less well than those with PUO. Overall, 78% of inpatient and 77% of outpatient fevers resolved with no modification of the initial treatment. Twenty-one percent of patients originally assigned to outside management required hospitalization. Mortality was 2% among inpatients and 4% among outpatients. One early death in a nonhospitalized patient underscores the need for close monitoring and surveillance in these cases.CONCLUSIONS: Outpatient management of low-risk neutropenic febrile patients with ofloxacin is as effective as inpatient management with the same agent. This approach should be limited to the subset of patients with low-risk factors who are not otherwise on quinolone prophylaxis.

Publication (Name of Journal)

The American Journal of Medicine