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      Shock Index and Early Recognition of Sepsis in the Emergency Department: Pilot Study

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          Screening for severe sepsis in adult emergency department (ED) patients may involve potential delays while waiting for laboratory testing, leading to postponed identification or over-utilization of resources. The systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) criteria are inaccurate at predicting clinical outcomes in sepsis. Shock index (SI), defined as heart rate / systolic blood pressure, has previously been shown to identify high risk septic patients. Our objective was to compare the ability of SI, individual vital signs, and the systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) criteria to predict the primary outcome of hyperlactatemia (serum lactate ≥ 4.0 mmol/L) as a surrogate for disease severity, and the secondary outcome of 28-day mortality.


          We performed a retrospective analysis of a cohort of adult ED patients at an academic community trauma center with 95,000 annual visits, from February 1st, 2007 to May 28th, 2008. Adult patients presenting to the ED with a suspected infection were screened for severe sepsis using a standardized institutional electronic order set, which included triage vital signs, basic laboratory tests and an initial serum lactate level. Test characteristics were calculated for two outcomes: hyperlactatemia (marker for morbidity) and 28-day mortality. We considered the following covariates in our analysis: heart rate >90 beats/min; mean arterial pressure < 65 mmHg; respiratory rate > 20 breaths/min; ≥ 2 SIRS with vital signs only; ≥2 SIRS including white blood cell count; SI ≥ 0.7; and SI ≥ 1.0. We report sensitivities, specificities, and positive and negative predictive values for the primary and secondary outcomes.


          2524 patients (89.4%) had complete records and were included in the analysis. 290 (11.5%) patients presented with hyperlactatemia and 361 (14%) patients died within 28 days. Subjects with an abnormal SI of 0.7 or greater (15.8%) were three times more likely to present with hyperlactatemia than those with a normal SI (4.9%). The negative predictive value (NPV) of a SI ≥ 0.7 was 95%, identical to the NPV of SIRS.


          In this cohort, SI ≥ 0.7 performed as well as SIRS in NPV and was the most sensitive screening test for hyperlactatemia and 28-day mortality. SI ≥ 1.0 was the most specific predictor of both outcomes. Future research should focus on multi-site validation, with implications for early identification of at-risk patients and resource utilization.

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          Most cited references 25

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          American College of Chest Physicians/Society of Critical Care Medicine Consensus Conference: definitions for sepsis and organ failure and guidelines for the use of innovative therapies in sepsis.

          To define the terms "sepsis" and "organ failure" in a precise manner. Review of the medical literature and the use of expert testimony at a consensus conference. American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) headquarters in Northbrook, IL. Leadership members of ACCP/Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM). An ACCP/SCCM Consensus Conference was held in August of 1991 with the goal of agreeing on a set of definitions that could be applied to patients with sepsis and its sequelae. New definitions were offered for some terms, while others were discarded. Broad definitions of sepsis and the systemic inflammatory response syndrome were proposed, along with detailed physiologic variables by which a patient could be categorized. Definitions for severe sepsis, septic shock, hypotension, and multiple organ dysfunction syndrome were also offered. The use of severity scoring methods were recommended when dealing with septic patients as an adjunctive tool to assess mortality. Appropriate methods and applications for the use and testing of new therapies were recommended. The use of these terms and techniques should assist clinicians and researchers who deal with sepsis and its sequelae.
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            Serum lactate is associated with mortality in severe sepsis independent of organ failure and shock.

            Serum lactate is a potentially useful biomarker to risk-stratify patients with severe sepsis; however, it is plausible that elevated serum lactate is simply a manifestation of clinically apparent organ dysfunction and/or shock (i.e., refractory hypotension). To test whether the association between initial serum lactate level and mortality in patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with severe sepsis is independent of organ dysfunction and shock. Single-center cohort study. The primary outcome was 28-day mortality and the risk factor variable was initial venous lactate (mmol/L), categorized as low ( or = 4). Potential covariates included age, sex, race, acute and chronic organ dysfunction, severity of illness, and initiation of early goal-directed therapy. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were stratified on the presence or absence of shock. The ED of an academic tertiary care center from 2005 to 2007. Eight hundred thirty adults admitted with severe sepsis in the ED. None. Mortality at 28 days was 22.9% and median serum lactate was 2.9 mmol/L. Intermediate (odds ratio [OR] = 2.05, p = 0.024) and high serum lactate levels (OR = 4.87, p < 0.001) were associated with mortality in the nonshock subgroup. In the shock subgroup, intermediate (OR = 3.27, p = 0.022) and high serum lactate levels (OR = 4.87, p = 0.001) were also associated with mortality. After adjusting for potential confounders, intermediate and high serum lactate levels remained significantly associated with mortality within shock and nonshock strata. Initial serum lactate was associated with mortality independent of clinically apparent organ dysfunction and shock in patients admitted to the ED with severe sepsis. Both intermediate and high serum lactate levels were independently associated with mortality.
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              Chart reviews in emergency medicine research: Where are the methods?

              Medical chart reviews are often used in emergency medicine research. However, the reliability of data abstracted by chart reviews is seldom examined critically. The objective of this investigation was to determine the proportion of emergency medicine research articles that use data from chart reviews and the proportions that report methods of case selection, abstractor training, monitoring and blinding, and interrater agreement. Research articles published in three emergency medicine journals from January 1989 through December 1993 were identified. The articles that used chart reviews were analyzed. Of 986 original research articles that were identified, 244 (25%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 22% to 28%) relied on chart reviews. Inclusion criteria were described in 98% (95% CI, 96% to 99%), and 73% (95% CI, 67% to 79%) defined the variables being analyzed. Other methods were seldom mentioned: abstractor training, 18% (95% CI, 13% to 23%); standardized abstraction forms, 11% (95% CI, 7% to 15%); periodic abstractor monitoring, 4% (95% CI, 2% to 7%); and abstractor blinding to study hypotheses, 3% (95% CI, 1% to 6%). Interrater reliability was mentioned in 5% (95% CI, 3% to 9%) and tested statistically in .4% (95% CI, 0% to 2%). A 15% random sample of articles was reassessed by a second investigator; interrater agreement was high for all eight criteria. Chart review is a common method of data collection in emergency medicine research. Yet, information about the quality of the data is usually lacking. Chart reviews should be held to higher methodologic standards, or the conclusions of these studies may be in error.

                Author and article information

                West J Emerg Med
                West J Emerg Med
                Western Journal of Emergency Medicine
                Department of Emergency Medicine, University of California, Irvine School of Medicine
                March 2013
                : 14
                : 2
                : 168-174
                [* ]University of California Davis, Department of Emergency Medicine, Sacramento, California
                [] University of California Davis, Department of Biostatistics, Davis, California
                [] New York Hospital Queens, Department of Emergency Medicine, Flushing, New York
                [§ ] Harvard University, Division of Emergency Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts
                Author notes

                Supervising Section Editor: Sean O. Henderson, MD

                Full text available through open access at http://escholarship.org/uc/uciem_westjem

                Address for Correspondence: Tony Berger, MD, MS, Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center, Department of Emergency Medicine, 6600 Bruceville Road, Sacramento, CA 95823. Email: Anthony.L.Berger@ 123456kp.org .
                Copyright © 2013 the authors.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Non-Commercial Attribution License, which permits its use in any digital medium, provided the original work is properly cited and not altered. For details, please refer to http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/. Authors grant Western Journal of Emergency Medicine a nonexclusive license to publish the manuscript.

                Diagnostic Acumen
                Original Research

                Emergency medicine & Trauma


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