To determine the appropriateness of empiric antibiotic therapy and the possible benefit of adding short-course gentamicin in septic shock patients with abdominal, urogenital, or an unknown focus. Secondary objectives were the effect of gentamicin addition on shock reversal and the incidence of a fungal infection.
Microbiological cultures, antibiotic treatment, and antibiotic resistance patterns of the cultured microorganisms were recorded during the first 5 days of admission. Inappropriate antibiotic therapy was defined as a prescription within the first 24 h that did not cover cultured bacteria during the first 5 days of admission and was determined in the overall group and in patients receiving adjunctive gentamicin (combination therapy) versus patients receiving monotherapy. Binomial logistic regression analysis was used to investigate the association of gentamicin addition with shock reversal.
Of 203 septic shock patients, with abdominal ( = 143), urogenital ( = 27) or unknown ( = 33) focus, 115 patients received monotherapy, and 88 patients received combination therapy. Inappropriate therapy occurred in 29 patients (14%), more frequently in monotherapy (17%) versus combination therapy (10%). Combination therapy would have been effective in 55% of patients with inappropriate monotherapy. We found no association between gentamicin addition and shock reversal ( = .223). A fungal infection was present in 22 patients (11%).
Inappropriate empirical antibiotic therapy occurs in 17% of septic shock patients receiving monotherapy. In 55% of these patients, additional gentamicin would have resulted in appropriate therapy. When clinical course is unfavourable, lowering the threshold for administering adjunctive aminoglycoside and antifungal therapy should be considered.