Initial disease severity and quality of care of emergency department sepsis patients who are older or younger than 70 years of age

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© 2017 Warmerdam et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Objective: Due to atypical symptom presentation older patients are more prone to delayed sepsis recognition. We investigated whether initial disease severity before emergency department (ED) treatment (including treatable acute organ dysfunction), quality of ED sepsis care and the impact on mortality was different between patients older and younger than 70 years. If differences exist, improvements are needed for ED management of older patients at risk for sepsis. Methods: In this observational multicenter study, ED patients who were hospitalized with a suspected infection were stratified by age <70 and ≥70 years. The presence of treatable and potentially reversible acute organ dysfunction was measured by the RO components of the Predisposition, Infection, Response and Organ dysfunction (PIRO) score, reflecting acute sepsis-related organ dysfunction developed before ED presentation. Quality of care, as assessed by the full compliance with nine quality performance measures and the standardized mortality ratio (SMR: observed/expected in-hospital mortality), was compared between older and younger patients. Results: The RO-components of the PIRO score were 8 (interquartile range; 4–9) in the 833 older patients, twice as high as the 4 (2–8; P<0.001) in the 1537 younger patients. However, full compliance with all nine quality performance measures was achieved in 34.2 (31.0–37.4)% of the older patients, not higher than the 33.0 (30.7–35.4)% in younger patients (P = 0.640). In-hospital mortality was 9.2% (95%-CI, 7.3–11.2) in patients ≥70, twice as high as the 4.6% (3.6–5.6) in patients <70 years, resulting in an SMR (in study period) of ~0.7 in both groups (P>0.05). Conclusion: Older sepsis patients are sicker at ED presentation but are not treated more expediently or reliably despite their extra acuity The presence of twice as much treatable acute organ dysfunction before ED treatment suggests that acute organ dysfunction is recognized relatively late by general practitioners or patients in the out of hospital setting.




Warmerdam, M., Stolwijk, F., Boogert, A., Sharma, M., Tetteroo, L., Lucke, J., … De Groot, B. (2017). Initial disease severity and quality of care of emergency department sepsis patients who are older or younger than 70 years of age. PLoS ONE, 12(9).

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