JAMA Intern Med. 2023 Mar 27. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2023.0258. Online ahead of print.
IMPORTANCE: Patients with septic shock may benefit from the initiation of corticosteroids. However, the comparative effectiveness of the 2 most studied corticosteroid regimens (hydrocortisone with fludrocortisone vs hydrocortisone alone) is unclear.
OBJECTIVE: To compare the effectiveness of adding fludrocortisone to hydrocortisone vs hydrocortisone alone among patients with septic shock using target trial emulation.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This retrospective cohort study from 2016 to 2020 used the enhanced claims-based Premier Healthcare Database, which included approximately 25% of US hospitalizations. Participants were adult patients hospitalized with septic shock and receiving norepinephrine who began hydrocortisone treatment. Data analysis was performed from May 2022 to December 2022.
EXPOSURE: Addition of fludrocortisone on the same calendar day that hydrocortisone treatment was initiated vs use of hydrocortisone alone.
MAIN OUTCOME AND MEASURES: Composite of hospital death or discharge to hospice. Adjusted risk differences were calculated using doubly robust targeted maximum likelihood estimation.
RESULTS: Analyses included 88 275 patients, 2280 who began treatment with hydrocortisone-fludrocortisone (median [IQR] age, 64 [54-73] years; 1041 female; 1239 male) and 85 995 (median [IQR] age, 67 [57-76] years; 42 136 female; 43 859 male) who began treatment with hydrocortisone alone. The primary composite outcome of death in hospital or discharge to hospice occurred among 1076 (47.2%) patients treated with hydrocortisone-fludrocortisone vs 43 669 (50.8%) treated with hydrocortisone alone (adjusted absolute risk difference, -3.7%; 95% CI, -4.2% to -3.1%; P < .001).
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: In this comparative effectiveness cohort study among adult patients with septic shock who began hydrocortisone treatment, the addition of fludrocortisone was superior to hydrocortisone alone.