Resistance to empiric antimicrobial treatment predicts outcome in severe sepsis associated with gram-negative bacteremia

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Journal of Hospital Medicine


Background: Gram-negative bacteria are an important cause of severe sepsis. Recent studies have demonstrated reduced susceptibility of Gram-negative bacteria to currently available antimicrobial agents. Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study of patients with severe sepsis who were bacteremic with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter species, or Enterobacteriaceae from 2002 to 2007. Patients were identified by the hospital informatics database and pertinent clinical data (demographics, baseline severity of illness, source of bacteremia, and therapy) were retrieved from electronic medical records. All patients were treated with antimicrobial agents within 12 hours of having blood cultures drawn that were subsequently positive for bacterial pathogens. The primary outcome was hospital mortality. Results: A total of 535 patients with severe sepsis and Gram-negative bacteremia were identified. Hospital mortality was 43.6%, and 82 (15.3%) patients were treated with an antimicrobial regimen to which the causative pathogen was resistant. Patients infected with a resistant pathogen had significantly greater risk of hospital mortality (63.4% vs 40.0%; P < 0.001). In a multivariate analysis, infection with a pathogen that was resistant to the empiric antibiotic regimen, increasing APACHE II scores, infection with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, healthcare-associated hospital-onset infection, mechanical ventilation, and use of vasopressors were independently associated with hospital mortality. Conclusions: In severe sepsis attributed to Gram-negative bacteremia, initial treatment with an antibiotic regimen to which the causative pathogen is resistant was associated with increased hospital mortality. This finding suggests that rapid determination of bacterial susceptibility could influence treatment choices in patients with severe sepsis potentially improving their clinical outcomes. © 2011 Society of Hospital Medicine.

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