Epidemiology of Vasopressin Use for Adults With Septic Shock

Abstract [from journal]

Rationale: Vasopressin may be used to treat vasodilatory hypotension in septic shock, but it is not recommended by guidelines as a first- or second-line agent. Little is known about how often the drug is used currently in septic shock.

Objectives: We conducted this study to describe patterns of vasopressin use in a large cohort of U.S. adults with septic shock and to identify patient and hospital characteristics associated with vasopressin use.

Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study of adults admitted to U.S. hospitals with septic shock in the Premier healthcare database (July 2008 to June 2013). We performed multilevel mixed-effects logistic regression with hospitals as a random effect to identify factors associated with use of vasopressin alone or in combination with other vasopressors on at least 1 day of hospital admission. We calculated quotients of Akaike Information Criteria (AIC) to determine relative contributions of patient and hospital characteristics to observed variation.

Measurements and main results: Among 584,421 patients with septic shock in 532 hospitals, 100,923 (17.2%) received vasopressin. A total of 6.1% of patients receiving vasopressin received vasopressin alone, and 93.9% received vasopressin in combination with other vasopressors (up to five vasopressors in 15 different combinations). The mean monthly rate of vasopressin use increased from 14.5 to 19.6% over the study period, representing an average annual relative increase of 8% (P < 0.001). The median hospital rate of vasopressin use for septic shock was 11.7% (range, 0-69.7%). Patient demographic and clinical characteristics, including patient age (adjusted odds ratio, 0.71 for age > 85 yr compared with the reference group of age < 50 yr; 95% confidence interval, 0.69-0.74) and acute respiratory dysfunction (adjusted odds ratio, 3.25; 95% confidence interval, 3.20-3.31), were responsible for the majority of observed variation in vasopressin use (quotient of AICs, 0.56). However, hospital of admission also contributed substantially to observed variation (quotient of AICs, 0.37).

Conclusions: Approximately one-fifth of patients with septic shock received vasopressin, but rarely as a single vasopressor. The use of vasopressin has increased over time. The likelihood of receiving vasopressin was strongly associated with the specific hospital to which each patient was admitted.