Objective: We sought to determine the association between time to initial antibiotics and mortality of patients with septic shock treated with an emergency department-based early resuscitation protocol.
Design: Preplanned analysis of a multicenter randomized controlled trial of early sepsis resuscitation.
Setting: Three urban U.S. emergency departments.
Patients: Adult patients with septic shock.
Interventions: A quantitative resuscitation protocol in the emergency department targeting three physiological variables: central venous pressure, mean arterial pressure, and either central venous oxygen saturation or lactate clearance. The study protocol was continued until all end points were achieved or a maximum of 6 hrs.
Measurements and main results: Data on patients who received an initial dose of antibiotics after presentation to the emergency department were categorized based on both time from triage and time from shock recognition to initiation of antibiotics. The primary outcome was inhospital mortality. Of 291 included patients, mortality did not change with hourly delays in antibiotic administration up to 6 hrs after triage: 1 hr (odds ratio [OR], 1.2; 0.6-2.5), 2 hrs (OR, 0.71; 0.4-1.3), 3 hrs (OR, 0.59; 0.3-1.3). Mortality was significantly increased in patients who received initial antibiotics after shock recognition (n = 172 [59%]) compared with before shock recognition (OR, 2.4; 1.1-4.5); however, among patients who received antibiotics after shock recognition, mortality did not change with hourly delays in antibiotic administration.
Conclusion: In this large, prospective study of emergency department patients with septic shock, we found no increase in mortality with each hour delay to administration of antibiotics after triage. However, delay in antibiotics until after shock recognition was associated with increased mortality.