Patient Care

IV Fluid Can Save Lives in Hemodynamically Stable Patients with Sepsis


Clinical Question: Does increased fluid administration in patients with sepsis with intermediate lactate levels improve outcomes?

Background: The Surviving Sepsis Campaign bundle, which improves ED mortality, targets patients with hypotension or lactate levels >4 mmol/L. No similar optimal treatment strategy exists for less severe sepsis patients even though such patients are more common in hospitalized populations.

Study Design: Retrospective study of a quality improvement bundle.

Setting: 21 community-based hospitals in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California system.

Synopsis: This study evaluated implementation of a treatment bundle for 18,122 hemodynamically stable sepsis patients presenting to the ED with lactate levels between 2 and 4 mmol/L during the 12 months prior to and after bundle implementation. The bundle included antibiotic administration within three hours, repeated lactate levels within four hours, and 30 mL/kg or ≥2 L of intravenous fluids within three hours of initial lactate result. Patients with kidney disease and/or heart failure were separately evaluated because of the perceived risk of fluid administration.

Treatment after bundle implementation was associated with an adjusted hospital mortality odds ratio of 0.81 (95% CI, 0.66–0.99; P = 0.04). Significant reductions in hospital mortality were observed in patients with heart failure and/or kidney disease (P < 0.01) but not without (P > 0.4). This correlated with increased fluid administration in patients with heart failure and/or kidney disease following bundle implementation. This is not a randomized controlled study, which invites biases and confounding.

Bottom Line: Increased fluid administration improved mortality in patients with kidney disease and heart failure presenting with sepsis.

Reference: Liu V, Morehouse JW, Marelich GP, et al. Multicenter implementation of a treatment bundle for patients with sepsis and intermediate lactate values. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2016;193(11):1264-1270.

Short Take

New Framework for Learners’ Clinical Reasoning

A qualitative study involving 37 emergency medicine residents found that clinical reasoning through individual cases progresses from case framing (phase 1) to pattern recognition (phase 2), then self-monitoring (phase 3).

Citation: Adams E, Goyder C, Heneghan C, Brand L, Ajjawi R. Clinical reasoning of junior doctors in emergency medicine: a grounded theory study [published online ahead of print June 23, 2016]. Emerg Med J. doi:10.1136/emermed-2015-205650.

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