Background: High-dose vitamin C is increasingly used for sepsis and more recently for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections. Proponents argue that the low cost and near perfect safety profile of vitamin C support its early adoption. Yet, adverse events might be underreported and underappreciated.
Case presentation: We report a 73-year-old non-diabetic white man with end-stage renal disease on peritoneal dialysis admitted to the intensive care unit with septic shock that was suspected to be due to peritonitis. The patient was enrolled in LOVIT (Lessening Organ Dysfunction with VITamin C; ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT03680274), a randomized placebo-controlled trial of high-dose intravenous vitamin C. He developed factitious hyperglycemia, as measured with a point-of-care glucometer, that persisted for 6 days after discontinuation of the study drug, confirmed to be vitamin C after unblinding. He also had short-lived iatrogenic coma because of hypoglycemia secondary to insulin administration. These events triggered a protocol amendment.
Conclusions: Although factitious hyperglycemia has been reported before using certain glucometers in patients treated with high-dose vitamin C, the persistence of this phenomenon for 6 days after the discontinuation of the therapy is a distinguishing feature. This case highlights the importance of monitoring glucose with a core laboratory assay for up to a week in specific populations, such as patients on peritoneal dialysis.
Keywords: Ascorbic acid; Intensive care; Peritoneal dialysis; Sepsis; Septic shock; Vitamin C.