Three-Hour Bundle Compliance and Outcomes in Patients With Undiagnosed Severe Sepsis

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The aim of this study was to compare completion of the Surviving Sepsis Campaign 3-hour treatment recommendations and patient-centered outcomes between patients with severe sepsis who received a sepsis-specific diagnosis code with those who did not.


This was a retrospective cohort analysis of adult patients admitted through an academic medical center ED who received an antibiotic and met criteria for severe sepsis. We measured and compared the Surviving Sepsis Campaign 3-hour treatment recommendations along with patient-centered outcomes in patients who were diagnosed with severe sepsis and those who were not.


A total of 5,631 patients were identified (60.6 ± 17.2 years of age; 48.9% women). Less than half (32.8%) received an International Classification of Diseases, ninth revision, diagnosis code of 995.92. Completion of all four bundle components in < 3 hours was low for all patients (8.72%). Therapeutic components (a broad-spectrum antibiotic and IV fluids) were completed more often (31.3%). Those with a diagnosis code received all four bundle components (10.2% vs 7.9%; P < .005), as well as therapeutic components at a higher frequency (36.0% vs 29.0%; P < .001). Patients with a diagnosis code had higher mortality (6.3% vs 2.3%), more frequent ICU admissions (44.7% vs 22.5%), and longer hospitalizations (9.2 ± 6.9 days vs 6.9 ± 6.7 days) than did patients with severe sepsis with no diagnosis code (all P < .001).


Severe sepsis continues to be an underdiagnosed and undertreated condition. Patients who were diagnosed had higher treatment rates yet experienced worse outcomes. Continued investigation is needed to identify factors contributing to diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes in patients with severe sepsis.

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