Background: This study aimed to identify patients at high risk for developing sepsis following surgery according to criteria determined by the American College of Chest Physicians and the Society of Critical Care Medicine Consensus Conference on sepsis.
Methods: A prospective case-control study was performed in surgical patients in a tertiary care centre over 1 year. Patients were identified by a daily prospective surveillance. Controls were selected randomly from the daily list of surgical inpatients. Data were collected prospectively. Crude and adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and their 95 per cent confidence intervals were computed using logistic regression analysis.
Results: During follow-up, 99 cases and 99 controls were identified. The main risk factors for sepsis found in the multivariate analysis were coma within 48 h before sepsis (OR 13.5, 95 per cent confidence interval 3.6-50.8), low serum albumin level at admission (OR 15.8, 5.4-46.4), two or more intrinsic co-morbidities (OR 11.8, 2.8-49.4) and parenteral nutrition (OR 5.1, 1.5-17.1). Emergency surgery (OR 3.0, 1.4-6.4), abdominal surgery (OR 2.6, 1.0-6.8) and number of surgical interventions (OR 2.5, 1. 1-6.1) were the variables related to surgery that significantly increased the risk of sepsis. Both the study on the Efficacy of Nosocomial Infection Control (SENIC) and the National Nosocomial Infections Surveillance indices showed a statistically significant trend with sepsis.
Conclusion: Patient-related factors appear to represent the greatest risk for developing postoperative nosocomial sepsis, rather than factors associated with the surgery.