Pharmacist involvement in sepsis response and time to antibiotics: A systematic review

Payton E. Atkins, Melissa L. Thompson Bastin, Rebecca J. Morgan, Melanie E. Laine, Alexander H. Flannery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Introduction: Sepsis is a life-threatening medical emergency and a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Reductions in time to antibiotics in patients presenting with sepsis or septic shock are associated with reduced mortality, and Surviving Sepsis Campaign guidelines recommend antibiotics within 1 h of recognition. Pharmacists are well-equipped to help navigate the therapeutic and operational challenges associated with achieving this goal. Objectives: To assess the association of pharmacist involvement in sepsis response with time to antibiotics in hospitalized patients with sepsis and septic shock. Methods: A systematic review of the following databases was conducted: PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), and Web of Science. Studies must have included a designated role of an individual pharmacist in the management of sepsis or septic shock and not be considered an operational change. The primary outcome of interest was time to antibiotic administration, with secondary outcomes including intensive care unit (ICU) and hospital length of stay as well as in-hospital mortality. Results: We identified 10 studies including 1772 patients with sepsis or septic shock that evaluated a sepsis response in which a pharmacist was included. Studies included patients in the ICU, emergency department, and hospital ward setting. Seven studies demonstrated a significant reduction in time to antibiotics, with two other studies supporting this conclusion in extrapolation or sensitivity analysis. There was not a consistent reduction in ICU or hospital length of stay nor in-hospital mortality between those interventions involving a pharmacist compared with their defined control groups. Conclusion: Pharmacist involvement in sepsis response, often as part of a multiprofessional team-based approach to sepsis care, is associated with a reduced time to antibiotic administration for hospitalized patients with sepsis or septic shock.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)942-953
Number of pages12
JournalJACCP Journal of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

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© 2022 Pharmacotherapy Publications, Inc.


  • antibiotic
  • pharmacist
  • sepsis
  • septic shock
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacy
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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