The feasibility and accuracy of point-of-care lactate measurement in emergency department patients with suspected infection

J Emerg Med. 2010 Jul;39(1):89-94. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2009.07.021. Epub 2009 Aug 31.


Background: Prior studies show that lactate is a useful prognostic marker in sepsis.

Objective: To study the feasibility and accuracy of a point-of-care (POC) analyzer capable of performing bedside serum lactate measurements; and to determine if other measurements (pH, base excess) are predictive of mortality.

Design: prospective cohort study of adult (age 18 years or older) Emergency Department (ED) patients with suspected infection during the study period of May 2006 through March 2007.

Setting: A 55,000-annual-visit urban tertiary care ED.

Intervention: A point-of-care device (i-STAT, Abbott Point of Care Inc., Princeton, NJ) was deployed using a standardized training and quality assurance process. Using POC testing, we measured serum lactate, pH, and base excess, as well as concomitant lactate measurement via a central laboratory.

Statistics: Area under the curve (AUC) for receiver operator characteristic curve, Bland-Altman statistics along with a correlation coefficient, and relative risk with 95% confidence intervals reported.

Results: There were 699 patients enrolled, of whom 34 (4.9%) died. The AUCs for mortality prediction were: POC lactate 0.72, laboratory lactate 0.70, pH measurement 0.60, and base excess 0.60. Bland-Altman showed that POC lactate was, on average, 0.32 (95% confidence interval -0.35-0.98) lower than laboratory lactate, with agreement kappa = 0.97.

Conclusions: A point-of-care testing device provides a reliable and feasible way to measure serum lactate at the bedside. The pH and base excess were less helpful.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Area Under Curve
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Point-of-Care Systems*
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sepsis / diagnosis*


  • Lactic Acid