Correlation Between Body Temperature and Survival Rate in Patients With Hospital-Acquired Bacteremia: A Prospective Observational Study

Biol Res Nurs. 2015 Oct;17(5):469-77. doi: 10.1177/1099800414554683. Epub 2014 Oct 12.


Background: Fever is a complex and major sign of a patient's acute response to infection. However, analysis of the risks and benefits associated with the change in body temperature of an infected host remains controversial.

Objective: To examine the relationship between the intensity of the change in body temperature and the mortality of patients with hospital-acquired bacteremia.

Design: A prospective observational study.

Method: Subjects were hospitalized adult patients who developed clinical signs of infection 48 hr or more after admission and had documented bacterial growth in blood culture. The maximum body temperature (maxTe) during the early period of infection measurements (i.e., the day before, the day of, and 2 days after the day of blood culture) was used to indicate the intensity of the body temperature response. Patients were categorized as discharged alive or died in hospital. Cox regression analysis was employed to analyze the data.

Results: The cohort consisted of 502 subjects. The mean maxTe of subjects was 38.6°C, and 14.9% had a maxTe lower than 38.0°C. The in-hospital mortality rate was 18.9%. The highest in-hospital mortality was found in subjects with a maxTe lower than 38°C (30.7%). Multivariate Cox regression analysis determined that the maxTe and the severity of comorbidity are the two variables associated with in-hospital mortality.

Conclusions: Lack of a robust febrile response may be associated with greater risk of mortality in patients with bacteremia. Clinicians must be vigilant in identifying patients at risk for a blunted febrile response to bacteremia for more intensive monitoring.

Keywords: fever; hospital-acquired bacteremia; maximum body temperature; mortality.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bacteremia / epidemiology
  • Bacteremia / etiology*
  • Body Temperature*
  • Community-Acquired Infections / epidemiology
  • Community-Acquired Infections / etiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross Infection / complications
  • Cross Infection / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Fever
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Survival Rate