Objective: To develop practice parameters for the evaluation of adult patients who develop a new fever in the intensive care unit (ICU) for the purpose of guiding clinical practice.
Participants: A task force of 13 experts in disciplines related to critical care medicine, infectious diseases, and surgery was convened from the membership of the Society of Critical Care Medicine, and the Infectious Disease Society of America.
Evidence: The task force members provided the personal experience and determined the published literature (MEDLINE articles, textbooks, etc.) from which consensus would be sought. Published literature was reviewed and classified into one of four categories, according to study design and scientific value.
Consensus process: The task force met several times in person and twice monthly by teleconference over a 1-yr period of time to identify the pertinent literature and arrive at consensus recommendations. Consideration was given to the relationship between the weight of scientific evidence and the experts' opinions. Draft documents were composed and debated by the task force until consensus was reached by nominal group process.
Conclusions: The panel concluded that, because fever can have many infectious and noninfectious etiologies, a new fever in a patient in the ICU should trigger a careful clinical assessment rather than automatic orders for laboratory and radiologic tests. A cost-conscious approach to obtaining cultures and imaging studies should be undertaken if it is indicated after a clinical evaluation. The goal of such an approach is to determine, in a directed manner, whether or not infection is present, so additional testing can be avoided and therapeutic options can be made.