UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Pharmacology & Therapeutics

Title: Fever Treatment in Sepsis

Keywords: antipyretic, sepsis, fever (PubMed Search)

Posted: 10/7/2017 by Ashley Martinelli (Emailed: 10/10/2017) (Updated: 7/14/2024)
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Fever occurs in 40% of patients with sepsis.  Historically, there has been conflicting evidence of whether patient outcomes improve with antipyretic therapy.

A recent large meta-analysis assessed the effect of antipyretic therapy on mortality of critically ill septic patients.  The analysis included 8 randomized studies (1,531 patients) and 8 observational studies (17,432 patients) that assessed mortality of septic patients with and without antipyretic therapy.

The authors found no difference in mortality at 28 days or during hospital admission.  There was also no difference in shock reversal, heart rate, or minute ventilation.

As expected, they found a statistically significant reduction in posttreatment body temperature (-0.38°C, 95% IC -0.63 to -0.13) in patients who received antipyretic therapy.  NSAIDs and cooling therapies were more effective than acetaminophen, however no agent or dosing information was provided and only one study included physical cooling therapies.

Bottom Line: Antipyretic therapies do not reduce mortality in patients with sepsis, but they may improve patient comfort by reducing body temperature.



Drewry AM, et al. Antipyretic therapy in critically ill septic patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Crit Care Med 2017;45:806-813.