Objective: To study the association between time to antibiotic administration and survival in patients with severe sepsis or septic shock in whom early goal-directed therapy was initiated in the emergency department.
Design: Single-center cohort study.
Setting: The emergency department of an academic tertiary care center from 2005 through 2006.
Patients: Two hundred sixty-one patients undergoing early goal-directed therapy.
Measurements and main results: Effects of different time cutoffs from triage to antibiotic administration, qualification for early goal-directed therapy to antibiotic administration, triage to appropriate antibiotic administration, and qualification for early goal-directed therapy to appropriate antibiotic administration on in-hospital mortality were examined. The mean age of the 261 patients was 59 +/- 16 yrs; 41% were female. In-hospital mortality was 31%. Median time from triage to antibiotics was 119 mins (interquartile range, 76-192 mins) and from qualification to antibiotics was 42 mins (interquartile range, 0-93 mins). There was no significant association between time from triage or time from qualification for early goal-directed therapy to antibiotics and mortality when assessed at different hourly cutoffs. When analyzed for time from triage to appropriate antibiotics, there was a significant association at the <1 hr (mortality 19.5 vs. 33.2%; odds ratio, 0.30 [95% confidence interval, 0.11-0.83]; p = .02) time cutoff; similarly, for time from qualification for early goal-directed therapy to appropriate antibiotics, a significant association was seen at the < or =1 hr (mortality 25.0 vs. 38.5%; odds ratio, 0.50 [95% confidence interval, 0.27-0.92]; p = .03) time cutoff.
Conclusions: Elapsed times from triage and qualification for early goal-directed therapy to administration of appropriate antimicrobials are primary determinants of mortality in patients with severe sepsis and septic shock treated with early goal-directed therapy.