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Antibiotic treatment of sepsis.

Early, appropriate antibiotic therapy is critical to the treatment of the septicemic patient. The degree of organ dysfunction, underlying medical conditions, and physiologic abnormalities are important prognostic factors but are not important in initial antibiotic selection. Initial empiric therapy should be directed against the resident flora of the organ, which is primarily involved in the infectious process. Blood cultures should be obtained in all patients for the initiation of antibiotic therapy, and methods should be employed for the early detection of septicemia. Other conditions that mimic sepsis, e.g., pseudosepsis, should be ruled out initially to avoid an incorrect diagnosis and unnecessary antibiotic therapy. Monotherapy and fully recommended doses of antimicrobial drugs delivered by the intravenous route as soon as the diagnosis is established remain the cornerstone of therapy in treating the septic patient. Monotherapy with an antibiotic of the appropriate spectrum is more than adequate to treat the great majority of septicemic patients. Double-drug therapy is recommended to treat febrile leukopenic compromised hosts, serious P. aeruginosa infections, and selected cases of intra-abdominal sepsis. At the present time, corticosteroids and mediator therapy have no place in the treatment of the septic patient.

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