Interhospital transfer delays appropriate treatment for patients with severe sepsis and septic shock: A retrospective cohort study

Brett A. Faine, Joseph M. Noack, Terrance Wong, Jeffrey T. Messerly, Azeemuddin Ahmed, Brian M. Fuller, Nicholas M. Mohr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Objective: To test the hypothesis that interhospital transfer causes significant delays in the administration of appropriate antibiotics and compliance with the completion of Surviving Sepsis Bundle elements. Design: Single-center retrospective cohort study. Setting: A comprehensive 60,000-visit emergency department at a 711-bed Midwestern academic medical center. Patients: Patients with severe sepsis and septic shock treated between 2009 and 2014 were identified by International Classification of Diseases,9th Revision, Clinical Modification, codes, then divided into two cohorts: 1) transfer patients who arrived at the tertiary academic center after receiving care in a local community hospital and 2) control patients who presented directly to the tertiary academic center emergency department. Interventions: None. Measurement and Main Results: One hundred ninety-three patients were included. Transfer patients were more likely to require surgery in the hospital (p < 0.001) and require ICU care (p = 0.001) but had similar illness severity based on (Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II, 17.7 vs 17.5; p = 0.662). Antibiotic administration at 1 and 3 hours was comparable between the two cohorts, but initial antibiotic appropriateness was lower in transfer patients (34% vs 79%; p < 0.001). Transfer patients were less likely to have fluid resuscitation started by 3 hours (54% vs 89%; p < 0.001), but they were not less likely to receive an adequate fluid bolus (30 mL/kg) by the time of hospital admission (p = 0.056). There were no differences in ICU length of stay or mortality. Conclusions: Interhospital transfer significantly delays administration of appropriate initial antibiotics and resuscitation therapy. Future studies are needed to identify strategies of providing regional sepsis care prior to transfer to tertiary centers and to continue care pathways during the interhospital transfer process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2589-2596
Number of pages8
JournalCritical care medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • antibacterial agents
  • emergency department
  • hospitals
  • interhospital transfer
  • resuscitation
  • rural
  • sepsis


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