WASHINGTON – Sepsis and septic shock patients treated within 3 hours had lower in-hospital mortality rates than those treated between hours 3 and 12, based on data from nearly 50,000 adult patients. The findings were presented at an international conference of the American Thoracic Society and published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“Considerable controversy exists about how rapidly sepsis must be treated,” wrote, of the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and his colleagues. The researchers reviewed data from New York State, where hospitals have mandated protocols for sepsis treatment, to assess the impact of treatment timing on risk-adjusted mortality (NEJM. 2017. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1703058).
The primary outcome was in-hospital mortality, and each hour taken to complete the 3-hour treatment bundle was associated with increased mortality (odds ratio, 1.04 per hour). Overall, patients whose 3-hour treatment bundle was completed between 3 and 12 hours after hospital admission were 14% more likely to die than those who received the treatment bundle within 3 hours.
“These associations appeared to be stronger among patients receiving vasopressors than among those who were not receiving vasopressors,” the researchers noted.
On average, patients received the complete 3-hour treatment bundle in 1.30 hours, antibiotics in 0.95 hours, and a fluid bolus in 2.56 hours.
Odds of risk-adjusted in-hospital mortality were significantly higher for those with a longer time to completion of the 3-hour bundle within 12 hours (OR, 1.04) and for those with a longer time to administration of antibiotics (OR, 1.04); however, the time to bolus of IV fluids did not significantly impact in-hospital mortality.
The study was limited as a review and not a randomized trial and by a lack of data on the appropriateness of broad-spectrum antibiotics, the researchers said. However, the data suggest that, if there is a causal relationship between treatment timing and mortality, “prompt recognition and faster treatment of sepsis and septic shock in the context of emergency care may reduce the incidence of avoidable deaths,” they said.
Lead author Dr. Seymour reported grants from the National Institutes of Health and financial relationships with Beckman Coulter and Edwards Lifesciences.