Prediction of sepsis in the burn intensive care unit patient

Elizabeth A Mann-Salinas, The University of Texas School of Nursing at Houston


Sepsis is a significant cause for multiple organ failure and death in the burn patient, yet identification in this population is confounded by chronic hypermetabolism and impaired immune function. The purpose of this study was twofold: 1) determine the ability of the systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) and American Burn Association (ABA) criteria to predict sepsis in the burn patient; and 2) develop a model representing the best combination of clinical predictors associated with sepsis in the same population. A retrospective, case-controlled, within-patient comparison of burn patients admitted to a single intensive care unit (ICU) was conducted for the period January 2005 to September 2010. Blood culture results were paired with clinical condition: "positive-sick"; "negative-sick", and "screening-not sick". Data were collected for the 72 hours prior to each blood culture. The most significant predictors were evaluated using logistic regression, Generalized Estimating Equations (GEE) and ROC area under the curve (AUC) analyses to assess model predictive ability. Bootstrapping methods were employed to evaluate potential model over-fitting. Fifty-nine subjects were included, representing 177 culture periods. SIRS criteria were not found to be associated with culture type, with an average of 98% of subjects meeting criteria in the 3 days prior. ABA sepsis criteria were significantly different among culture type only on the day prior (p = 0.004). The variables identified for the model included: heart rate>130 beats/min, mean blood pressure<60 >mmHg, base deficit<-6 mEq/L, temperature>36°C, use of vasoactive medications, and glucose>150 mg/d1. The model was significant in predicting "positive culture-sick" and sepsis state, with AUC of 0.775 (p < 0.001) and 0.714 (p < .001), respectively; comparatively, the ABA criteria AUC was 0.619 (p = 0.028) and 0.597 (p = .035), respectively. SIRS criteria are not appropriate for identifying sepsis in the burn population. The ABA criteria perform better, but only for the day prior to positive blood culture results. The time period useful to diagnose sepsis using clinical criteria may be limited to 24 hours. A combination of predictors is superior to individual variable trends, yet algorithms or computer support will be necessary for the clinician to find such models useful.

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Recommended Citation

Mann-Salinas, Elizabeth A, "Prediction of sepsis in the burn intensive care unit patient" (2011). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3479519.