Cluster analysis to define distinct clinical phenotypes among septic patients with bloodstream infections

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Medicine (United States)


Prior attempts at identifying outcome determinants associated with bloodstream infection have employed a priori determined classification schemes based on readily identifiable microbiology, infection site, and patient characteristics. We hypothesized that even amongst this heterogeneous population, clinically relevant groupings can be described that transcend old a priori classifications. We applied cluster analysis to variables from three domains: patient characteristics, acuity of illness/clinical presentation and infection characteristics. We validated our clusters based on both content validity and predictive validity. Among 3715 patients with bloodstream infections from Barnes-Jewish Hospital (2008-2015), the most stable cluster arrangement occurred with the formation of 4 clusters. This clustering arrangement resulted in an approximately uniform distribution of the population: Cluster One "Surgical Outside Hospital Transfers"(21.5%), Cluster Two "Functional Immunocompromised Patients"(27.9%), Cluster Three "Women with Skin and Urinary Tract Infection"(28.7%) and Cluster Four "Acutely Sick Pneumonia"(21.8%). Staphylococcus aureus distributed primarily to Clusters Three (40%) and Four (25%), while nonfermenting Gram-negative bacteria grouped mainly in Clusters Two and Four (31% and 30%). More than half of the pneumonia cases occurred in Cluster Four. Clusters One and Two contained 33% and 31% respectively of the individuals receiving inappropriate antibiotic administration. Mortality was greatest for Cluster Four (33.8%, 27.4%, 19.2%, 44.6%; P<.001), while Cluster One patients were most likely to be discharged to a nursing home. Our results support the potential for machine learning methods to identify homogenous groupings in infectious diseases that transcend old a priori classifications. These methods may allow new clinical phenotypes to be identified potentially improving the severity staging and development of new treatments for complex infectious diseases.



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