Low-dose steroids in adult septic shock: results of the Surviving Sepsis Campaign

Brian Casserly, Herwig Gerlach, Gary S Phillips, Stanley Lemeshow, John C Marshall, Tiffany M Osborn, Mitchell M Levy
Intensive Care Medicine 2012, 38 (12): 1946-54

OBJECTIVE: The Surviving Sepsis Campaign (SSC) developed guidelines and treatment bundles for the administration of steroids in adult septic shock. However, it is not clear how this has affected clinical practice or patient outcome.

DESIGN AND SETTING: The SSC has developed an extensive database to assess the overall effect of its guidelines on clinical practice and patient outcome. This analysis focuses on one particular element of the SSC's management bundle, namely, the administration of low-dose steroids in adult septic shock. This analysis was conducted on data submitted from January 2005 through March 2010 including 27,836 subjects at 218 sites.

MAIN RESULTS: A total of 17,847 (of the total 27,836) patients in the database required vasopressor therapy despite fluid resuscitation and therefore met the eligibility criteria for receiving low-dose steroids. A total of 8,992 patients (50.4 %) received low-dose steroids for their septic shock. Patients in Europe (59.4 %) and South America (51.9 %) were more likely to be prescribed low-dose steroids compared to their counterparts in North America (46.2 %, p < 0.001). The adjusted hospital mortality was significantly higher (OR 1.18, 95 % CI 1.09-1.23, p < 0.001) in patients who received low-dose steroids compared to those who did not. There was still an association with increased adjusted hospital mortality with low-dose steroids even if they were prescribed within 8 h (OR 1.23, 95 % CI 1.13-1.34, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Steroids were commonly administered in the treatment of septic shock in this subset analysis of the Surviving Sepsis Campaign database. However, this was associated with an increase in adjusted hospital mortality.

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