Intensive care medicine deals with the critically ill; these patients usually have multiple organ failure, and complex medical conditions. The mortality in Australia and New Zealand among this population is approximately 16.1%, with approximately 24.2% having existing co-morbidities, and 23.4% of these patients experiencing sepsis or septic shock. Sepsis is a clinical syndrome that traditionally was regarded as a physiological maladaptive response to a foreign pathogen and ranges in disease severity from simple sepsis to septic shock, a life threatening condition, associated with multiple organ failure. Sepsis has profound effects on all systems of the body, and most notably the cardiovascular, renal and hepatic systems. There has been much research into the septic critically ill patient and recent developments in basic pharmacology and physiology has yielded results applicable to clinical practice. Sepsis may induce a state of increased cardiac output, which has significant effects on drug pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. This increased cardiac output increases both renal and hepatic blood flow, and alters rates of antibiotic metabolism, and excretion. There are also alterations in the fluid compartments of the septic critically ill, that results in an altered volume of distribution, and ultimately decreased antibiotic concentrations at their site of action. This article will examine and review in detail the septic critically ill patient, and the effects that sepsis has on physiology and the resulting altered antibiotic pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. Current knowledge suggests that the medical prescriber should be weary of antibiotic dosing in the septic critically ill, and consider alternative dosing regimes that are individualized to the patient in order to maximize efficacy.
Keywords: Critical care, sepsis, physiology, multiple organ, physiological maladaptive response, antibiotic dosing, antibiotic pharmacokinetics, cardiovascular, organ systems, proinflammatory mediators, immune-propagation, hydrophilic antimicrobial agents, preexisting cardiac disease, host immune system, vasoactive medications
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