Original Article

EMS Patients and Walk-In Patients Presenting With Severe Sepsis: Differences in Management and Outcome

Authors: Jon Femling, MD, PhD, Steven Weiss, MD, Eric Hauswald, BA, David Tarby, MD

Abstract

Objectives: Sepsis is a significant problem. The differences between patients with sepsis who walk into the emergency department (ED) and those who are transported via emergency medical services (EMS) have not been clarified. The aim of the study was to determine whether there was a difference in outcome between patients arriving by EMS and those presenting directly to the ED.

Methods: We prospectively collected and reviewed a cohort of all cases of severe sepsis and septic shock admitted to the medical intensive care unit from the ED from November 2009 to March 2012. Extracted data were basic demographic information (including mode of ED arrival), clinical data, and treatments. We calculated Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome criteria, Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II scores, and Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) scores. The primary outcome was mortality in severely ill patients with sepsis.

Results: A total of 378 subjects (78%) presented by EMS and 107 subjects were walk-in patients (22%). Patients transported via EMS were older ( P < 0.01), had fewer lactates >4 ( P < 0.02), a more altered mental status ( P < 0.01), and higher respiratory rates ( P < 0.05) than did walk-in patients. Patients transported by EMS had worse disease severity when measured by an Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II score ( P < 0.01) but not by SOFA score. EMS patients had a shorter time to receiving antibiotics ( P = 0.02) and central line placement ( P < 0.01) than did walk-in patients. In a logistic model, mortality was associated with increasing age (adjusted odds ratio 1.3; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.2–1.4), higher first-measured ED lactates (1.2; 95% CI 1.1–1.2), and increased initial SOFA score (adjusted odds ratio 1.2; 95% CI 1.1–1.3) but not EMS arrival or prehospital fluids.

Conclusions: Neither arrival by EMS nor fluid administration by EMS is associated with decreased mortality in severe sepsis.

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