Antibiotic treatment in patients with sepsis: a narrative review

Erika P Plata-Menchaca, Ricard Ferrer, Juan Carlos Ruiz Rodríguez, Rui Morais, Pedro Póvoa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Sepsis is a medical emergency and life-threatening condition due to a dysregulated host response to infection, with unacceptably high morbidity and mortality. Similar to acute myocardial infarction or cerebral vascular accident, sepsis is a severe and continuous time-dependent condition. Thus, in the case of sepsis, early and adequate administration of antimicrobials must be a priority, ideally within the first hour of diagnosis, simultaneously with organ support. As a consequence of the emergence of multidrug-resistant pathogens, the choice of antimicrobials should be performed according to the local pathogen patterns of resistance. Individual antimicrobial optimization is essential to achieve adequate concentrations of antimicrobials, to reduce adverse effects, and to ensure successful outcomes, as well as preventing the emergence of multidrug-resistant pathogens. The loading dose is the administration of an initial higher dose of antimicrobials, regardless of the presence of organ dysfunction. Further doses should be implemented according to pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics of antimicrobials and should be adjusted according to the presence of renal or liver dysfunction. Extended or continuous infusion of beta-lactams and therapeutic drug monitoring can help to achieve therapeutic levels of antimicrobials. Duration and adequacy of treatment must be reviewed at regular intervals to allow effective de-escalation and administration of short courses of antimicrobials for most patients. Antimicrobial stewardship frameworks, leadership, focus on the optimal duration of treatments, de-escalation, and novel diagnostic stewardship approaches will help us to improve patients the process of care and overall quality of care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-213
Number of pages11
JournalHospital practice (1995)
Issue number3
Early online date20 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022


  • Sepsis
  • septic Shock
  • antimicrobial therapy
  • antimicrobial stewardship
  • timing, de-escalation
  • early antibiotics


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