Given the significant morbidity and mortality of maternal sepsis, early identification is key to improve outcomes. This study aims to evaluate the performance characteristics of the systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), quick Sequential [Sepsis-related] Organ Failure Assessment (qSOFA), and maternal early warning (MEW) criteria for identifying cases of impending sepsis in parturients. The secondary objective of this study is to identify etiologies and risk factors for maternal sepsis and to assess timing of antibiotics in patients diagnosed with sepsis.
Validated maternal sepsis cases during the delivery hospitalization from 1995 to 2012 were retrospectively identified at 7 academic medical centers in the United States and Israel. Control patients were matched by date of delivery in a 1:4 ratio. The sensitivity and specificity of SIRS, qSOFA, and MEW criteria for identifying sepsis were calculated. Data including potential risk factors, vital signs, laboratory values, and clinical management were collected for cases and controls.
Eighty-two sepsis cases during the delivery hospitalization were identified and matched to 328 controls. The most common causes of sepsis were the following: chorioamnionitis 20 (24.4%), endometritis 19 (23.2%), and pneumonia 9 (11.0%). Escherichia coli 12 (14.6%), other Gram-negative rods 8 (9.8%), and group A Streptococcus 6 (7.3%) were the most commonly found pathogens. The sensitivities and specificities for meeting criteria for screening tools were as follows: (1) SIRS (0.93, 0.63); (2) qSOFA (0.50, 0.95); and (3) MEW criteria for identifying sepsis (0.82, 0.87). Of 82 women with sepsis, 10 (12.2%) died. The mortality rate for those who received antibiotics within 1 hour of diagnosis was 8.3%. The mortality rate was 20% for the patients who received antibiotics after >1 hour.
Chorioamnionitis and endometritis were the most common causes of sepsis, together accounting for about half of cases. Notable differences were observed in the sensitivity and specificity of sepsis screening tools with the highest to lowest sensitivity being SIRS, MEW, and qSOFA criteria, and the highest to lowest specificity being qSOFA, MEW, and SIRS. Mortality was doubled in the cohort of patients who received antibiotics after >1 hour. Clinicians need to be vigilant to identify cases of peripartum sepsis early in its course and prioritize timely antibiotic therapy.