Prognosis of emergency department patients with suspected infection and intermediate lactate levels: A systematic review

Michael A. Puskarich, Benjamin M. Illich, Alan E. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Purpose: Previous studies have shown a correlation between blood lactate greater than 4.0 mmol/L and mortality in patients with suspected infection in the emergency department (ED), but data are more limited regarding the prognosis of intermediate blood lactate (2.0-3.9 mmol/L), particularly in the absence of hemodynamic instability. We sought to quantify the prognostic significance of intermediate blood lactate levels in ED patients with suspected infection, emphasizing patients without hypotension. Methods: A systematic review of 4 databases was conducted to identify studies using a comprehensive search strategy. All studies performed on adult ED patients with suspected infection and available data on hemodynamics, intermediate lactate levels, and mortality rates were included. Results: We identified 20 potential publications, 8 of which were included. Intermediate lactate elevation was found in 11062 patients with suspected or confirmed infection, 1672 (15.1%) of whom died. Subgroup analysis of normotensive patients demonstrated a mortality of 1561 (14.9%) of 10442, with rates from individual studies between 3.2% and 16.4%. Conclusion: This systematic review found that among ED patients with suspected infection, intermediate lactate elevation is associated with a moderate to high risk of mortality, even among patients without hypotension. Physicians should consider close monitoring and aggressive treatment for such patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)334-339
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Critical Care
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dr Jones has received salary support from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (R01 GM103799). Dr Puskarich received salary support from a Career Development Grant from the Emergency Medicine Foundation.


  • Infection
  • Lactate
  • Prognosis
  • Review


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