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Objectives: Sepsis is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in critically ill patients worldwide, and corticosteroids are commonly used to treat it. However, the evidence supporting the use of corticosteroids in sepsis patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) is of low certainty, with conflicting results reported in previous studies. Thus, we aimed to investigate the potential association between corticosteroid treatment and various outcomes, including 30-day ICU mortality, ICU length of stay (LOS), mechanical ventilation use, new onset of infection, and hyperglycemia in patients diagnosed with sepsis and admitted to the ICU.

Materials and Methods: We conducted a cohort study utilizing data from the Medical Information Mart for Intensive Care-IV (MIMIC-IV) database from 2008 to 2019. The study compared users of corticosteroids following admission to the ICU with non-users. Outcomes assessed included 30-day ICU mortality, ICU length of stay (LOS), mechanical ventilation use, new onset of infection, and hyperglycemia. Doubly robust, augmented inverse propensity weighted models were employed to control for confounders and determine the average treatment effect (ATE) of corticosteroids on study outcomes.

Results: A total of 10,098 patients with a first diagnosis of sepsis were identified, of which 1,235 (12.2%) received corticosteroid treatment, and 8,863 (87.8%) did not. Corticosteroid use was associated with increased 30-day ICU mortality (ATE, 0.127; 95% CI, 0.083 to 0.171), ICU LOS (ATE, 1.773; 95% CI, 1.036 to 2.510), mechanical ventilation use (ATE, 0.181; 95% CI, 0.130 to 0.233), new onset of infection (ATE, 0.063; 95% CI, 0.032 to 0.094), and hyperglycemia (ATE, 0.024; 95% CI, 0.013 to 0.035) compared to non-use.

Conclusion: The safety profile of corticosteroid therapy in sepsis patients admitted to the ICU remains a concern. Clinicians should carefully consider all available evidence and patient preferences when deciding to prescribe corticosteroids. Given the low certainty of evidence supporting the current treatment guidelines, further research is warranted to provide a more conclusive understanding of the risks and benefits associated with corticosteroid use in this patient population.

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APA Citation

Chinaeke, E. E., Yunusa, I., Love, B. L., Magagnoli, J., & Reeder, C. E. (2023). Intensive Care Unit mortality and length of stay among critically ill patients with sepsis treated with corticosteroids: A retrospective cohort study. American Journal of Pharmacotherapy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2.


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