Empiric Antibiotic Therapy for Severe Sepsis and Septic Shock

Surg Infect (Larchmt). 2016 Apr;17(2):210-6. doi: 10.1089/sur.2014.096. Epub 2015 Dec 2.


Background: A retrospective study was conducted to investigate the validity and the effectiveness of early empiric antibiotic and de-escalation therapy for the treatment of severe sepsis and septic shock patients in the intensive care unit (ICU).

Methods: Patients admitted to the ICU at Chiba University Hospital from January 1, 2010, to December 31, 2012, for the treatment of severe sepsis or septic shock were selected for analysis.

Results: One-hundred and ten patients were enrolled for the analysis. Carbapenems were selected most frequently (57.3%), followed by cephalosporins (22.7%), and penicillins (21.8%). Empiric antibiotic therapy was appropriate for 85 (77.3%) patients. Mortality rates for patients with inappropriate empiric therapy was 36.8%, whereas mortality rates for patients with appropriate empiric therapy was 17.5%. Among the patients with appropriate empiric antibiotic administration, de-escalation was associated with lower mortality rates of 5.0% for severe sepsis and 9.7% for septic shock patients. The mortality rates for the no de-escalation group were 19.0% and 35.7%, respectively.

Conclusion: Empiric antibiotic therapy was acceptable for severe sepsis and septic shock patients treated in the ICU. The appropriate selection of empiric antibiotics was related to a greater rate of de-escalation and better survival. The risk of multi-drug-resistant bacterial infections was not as high as expected, but will need further attention in the future.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Therapy / methods
  • Female
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Secondary Prevention / methods*
  • Sepsis / drug therapy*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents