Outpatient Parenteral Antibiotic Therapy (OPAT)

Your care team will refer you to the OPAT team if the service is deemed appropriate for you. Once referred to the Infusion Therapy Centre for Outpatient Parenteral Therapy, an infectious diseases consultant and OPAT nurse will assess your case to determine if you are suitable for IV antibiotic treatment on an outpatient basis. 

The OPAT process will be fully explained to you for your consideration. If you decide to proceed with the service, arrangements will be made to ensure you can go home safely and come back to our Infusion Therapy Centre for your daily IV antibiotics. 

You will not be discharged and transferred to the OPAT service if you do not wish to be. If you choose not to go for the OPAT service, we will discuss alternative options for your treatment with you.

What is Outpatient Parenteral Antibiotic Therapy (OPAT)?

Antibiotics are used to fight against infections caused by bacteria. They can be given orally (by mouth) or injected into a vein. When antibiotics are injected, it is called intravenous (IV) or parenteral therapy. IV antibiotics can be given safely in an outpatient clinic or at home; this is called Outpatient Parenteral Antibiotic Therapy or OPAT. 

How is the antibiotic given? 

The antibiotic is injected into your vein through a small, narrow flexible tube. The tube is inserted into a vein using a needle. The needle is then removed, and the tube – also called IV line – is left in place and secured by a dressing.

There are different types of IV lines available, and the one chosen for your treatment will depend on your veins, and how long you will need the antibiotic treatment. You will be given further information about the IV line used in your treatment with additional instructions by the OPAT nurse. 

How are patients selected for OPAT?

Patients considered for the OPAT service are those who are ready to go home but need other IV antibiotic treatment.

What are the benefits of OPAT? 

OPAT allows you to be independent and resume your day-to-day activities at work and with family and friends. Feedback from previous OPAT patients has shown that most of them would choose it again rather than staying in the hospital for a prolonged period of time. 

What are the risks associated with OPAT? 

You will receive at least one dose of your antibiotic in the hospital to ensure that you do not develop a severe reaction. Allergic reactions can occur with any medication. Therefore, you should seek immediate medical attention if you develop any symptoms at home, such as a rash, facial swelling, or difficulty breathing. In case of an emergency, please call 999 for an ambulance or go to the nearest emergency department. 

Occasionally, the IV line can become blocked or develop an infection. If there are any problems, then contact the OPAT team on 02 314 2175, and you will be rapidly assessed and, if necessary, re-admitted back into our facility. 
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