Case Fatality and Adverse Outcomes Are Reduced in Pregnant Women With Severe Sepsis or Septic Shock Compared With Age-Matched Comorbid-Matched Nonpregnant Women

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Abstract

Objectives:

Case fatality in pregnancy-associated severe sepsis or septic shock appears reduced compared with nonpregnant women with severe sepsis or septic shock. It remains unclear if this difference is due to pregnancy or better baseline health status, among others. Our study compared adverse outcomes of pregnancy-associated severe sepsis or septic shock with nonpregnant women with severe sepsis or septic shock while controlling for age and chronic comorbidities.

Design:

Retrospective cohort study.

Setting:

Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a stratified sample of 20% acute care hospital admissions in the United States. Each entry includes patient and hospital characteristics as well as International Classification of Diseases, 9th revision, Clinical Modification, diagnoses and procedures.

Subjects:

Women of childbearing age (15–44 yr) with severe sepsis or septic shock–related hospitalizations during 1998–2012 identified using International Classification of Diseases, 9th revision, Clinical Modification, codes.

Outcomes:

Case fatality, hospital length of stay, length of stay until death, number of organ failures, rates of mechanical ventilation, and hemodialysis were compared in women according to pregnancy status, controlling for age, and chronic comorbidities.

Measurements and Main Results:

We identified 5,968 pregnancy-associated severe sepsis or septic shock and 85,240 nonpregnant women with severe sepsis or septic shock hospitalizations. Crude case fatality of pregnancy-associated severe sepsis or septic shock (9.6%) was lower than nonpregnant women with severe sepsis or septic shock (16.8%). The rate ratio for case fatality adjusted for socioeconomic status and race was 0.57 (95% CI, 0.52–0.62) while sequential adjustments for age and chronic comorbidities did not eliminate the association (rate ratio, 0.62 [95% CI, 0.57–0.68]) and 0.63 [95% CI, 0.57–0.68], respectively). Pregnancy-associated severe sepsis or septic shock was associated with shorter hospital length of stay (–0.83 d [95% CI, –1.32 to –0.34 d]), longer length of stay until death (2.61 d; [95% CI, 1.28–3.94 d]), and fewer organ failures (rate ratio, 0.95 [95% CI, 0.94–0.97]).

Conclusions:

Case fatality and adverse outcomes are reduced in women with pregnancy-associated severe sepsis or septic shock compared with nonpregnant women with severe sepsis or septic shock, and this is not explained by differences in age or chronic comorbidities alone. A less severe presentation of sepsis or protective effect of pregnancy may account for the difference observed with pregnancy-associated severe sepsis or septic shock.

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