Relationship Between Oral Temperature and Bacteremia in Hospitalized Patients

Link to article at PubMed

J Gen Intern Med. 2023 Mar 30. doi: 10.1007/s11606-023-08168-6. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Early recognition and treatment of bacteremia can be lifesaving. Fever is a well-known marker of bacteremia, but the predictive value of temperature has not been fully explored.

OBJECTIVE: To describe temperature as a predictor of bacteremia and other infections.

DESIGN: Retrospective review of electronic health record data.

SETTING: A single healthcare system comprising 13 hospitals in the United States.

PATIENTS: Adult medical patients admitted in 2017 or 2018 without malignancy or immunosuppression.

MAIN MEASURES: Maximum temperature, bacteremia, influenza and skin and soft tissue (SSTI) infections based on blood cultures and ICD-10 coding.

KEY RESULTS: Of 97,174 patients, 1,518 (1.6%) had bacteremia, 1,392 (1.4%) had influenza, and 3,280 (3.3%) had an SSTI. There was no identifiable temperature threshold that provided adequate sensitivity and specificity for bacteremia. Only 45% of patients with bacteremia had a maximum temperature ≥ 100.4˚F (38˚C). Temperature showed a U-shaped relationship with bacteremia with highest risk above 103˚F (39.4˚C). Positive likelihood ratios for influenza and SSTI also increased with temperature but showed a threshold effect at ≥ 101.0 ˚F (38.3˚C). The effect of temperature was similar but blunted for patients aged ≥ 65 years, who frequently lacked fever despite bacteremia.

CONCLUSIONS: The majority of bacteremic patients had maximum temperatures below 100.4 ˚F (38.0˚C) and positive likelihood ratios for bacteremia increased with high temperatures above the traditional definition of fever. Efforts to predict bacteremia should incorporate temperature as a continuous variable.

PMID:36997793 | DOI:10.1007/s11606-023-08168-6

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