SMFM Consult Series #67: Maternal sepsis
This replaces SMFM Consult Series #47: Sepsis during pregnancy and the puerperium .
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) endorses this document
Maternal sepsis is a significant cause of maternal morbidity and mortality, and is a potentially preventable cause ofmaternal death. This Consult aims to summarize what is known about sepsis and provide guidance for the management of sepsis during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Most studies cited are from the nonpregnant population, but where available, pregnancy data are included. The following are the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine recommendations: (1) we recommend that clinicians consider the diagnosis of sepsis in pregnant or postpartum patients with otherwise unexplained end-organ damage in the presence of a suspected or confirmed infectious process, regardless of the presence of fever (GRADE 1C); (2) we recommend that sepsis and septic shock in pregnancy be considered medical emergencies and that treatment and resuscitation begin immediately (Best Practice); (3) we recommend that hospitals and health systems use a performance improvement program for sepsis in pregnancy with sepsis screening tools and metrics (GRADE 1B); (4) we recommend that institutions develop their own procedures and protocolsfor the detection of maternal sepsis, avoiding the use of a single screening tool alone (GRADE 1B); (5) we recommend obtaining tests to evaluate for infectious and noninfectious causes of life-threatening organ dysfunction in pregnant and postpartum patients with possible sepsis (Best Practice); (6) we recommend that an evaluation for infectious causes in pregnant or postpartum patients in whom sepsis is suspected or identified includes appropriate microbiologic cultures, including blood, before starting antimicrobial therapy, as long as there are no substantial delays in timely administration of antibiotics (Best Practice); (7) we recommend obtaining a serum lactate level in pregnant or postpartum patients in whom sepsis is suspected or identified (GRADE 1B); (8) in pregnant or postpartum patients with septic shock or a high likelihood of sepsis, we recommend administration of empiric broad-spectrum antimicrobial therapy, ideally within 1 hour of recognition (GRADE 1C); (9) after a diagnosis of sepsis in pregnancy is made, we recommend rapid identification or exclusion of an anatomic source of infection and emergency source control when indicated (Best Practice); (10) we recommend early intravenous administration (within thefirst 3 hours) of 1 to 2 L of balanced crystalloid solutions in sepsis complicated by hypotension or suspected organ hypoperfusion (GRADE 1C); (11) we recommend the use of a balanced crystalloid solution as a first-line fluid for resuscitation in pregnant and postpartum patients with sepsis or septic shock (GRADE 1B); (12) we recommend against the use of starches or gelatin for resuscitation in pregnant and postpartum patients with sepsis or septic shock (GRADE 1A); (13) we recommend ongoing, detailed evaluation of the patient’s response to fluid resuscitation guided by dynamic measures of preload (GRADE 1B); (14) we recommend the use of norepinephrine as the first-line vasopressor during pregnancy and the postpartum period with septic shock (GRADE 1C); (15) we suggest using intravenous corticosteroids in pregnant or postpartum patients with septic shock who continue to require vasopressor therapy (GRADE 2B); (16) because of an increased risk of venous thromboembolism in sepsis and septic shock, we recommend the use of pharmacologic venous thromboembolism prophylaxis in pregnant and postpartum patients in septic shock (GRADE 1B); (17) we suggest initiating insulin therapy at a glucose level >180 mg/dL in critically ill pregnant patients with sepsis (GRADE 2C); (18) if a uterine source for sepsis is suspected or confirmed, we recommend prompt delivery or evacuation of uterine contents to achieve source control, regardless of gestational age (GRADE 1C); and (19) because of an increased risk of physical, cognitive, and emotional problems in survivors of sepsis and septic shock, we recommend ongoing comprehensive support for pregnant and postpartum sepsis survivors and their families (Best Practice).