Chiodo-Reidy J, et al. Intern Med J 2020.
BACKGROUND: Early identification and treatment of serious infections improves clinical outcomes. Previous studies have found that septic patients without fever are more likely to die than those with fever, due to delay in antibiotic administration.
AIM: To determine whether antibiotic treatment and mortality differed in afebrile adult patients presenting to the Emergency Department with bacteraemia, compared with those with a history of fever.
METHODS: Retrospective six-month audit of all adult patients with positive blood cultures taken in the Emergency Department (ED) of a single tertiary hospital. Outcomes included receipt of antibiotics within 4 and 24 h of ED arrival, in-hospital mortality and 30-day mortality.
RESULTS: 227 patients with clinically significant bacteraemia were identified, of which 38 (16.7%) were afebrile in ED. There was no statistically significant difference in the proportion of afebrile or febrile patients receiving antibiotics within 4-h (44.7% vs 55.6%, p = 0.222) or 24-h (89.5% vs 95.2%, p = 0.163) of arrival at ED. Inpatient mortality was not statistically different in the afebrile and febrile groups 15.8% vs 6.9%, p = 0.070), but 30-day mortality was higher among afebrile patients (27.6% vs 10.1%, p = 0.010).
CONCLUSIONS: There was no significant difference in receipt of antibiotics within 4 h or 24 h ED arrival between the febrile and afebrile groups. However, afebrile patients experienced higher 30-day mortality. While most bacteraemic patients received antibiotics within 24 h, only half received antibiotics within 4 h, representing a key area for improvement. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.