When measured at presentation in the emergency department (ED), traditional markers associated with sepsis have limited utility in predicting the condition (Clin Biochem 2017; doi.org/10.1016/j.clinbiochem.2017.05.014).

In a prospective study of 501 ED patients, the investigators found that lactate, procalcitonin (PCT), immature granulocyte, white blood cell count, and neutrophil count all had area under the receiver operator curve (AUC) for predicting sepsis <0.70, indicating that they were of limited utility for this purpose.

However, several of these measurands had AUC ≥0.70 for predicting severe sepsis or septic shock. Lactate had the highest odds ratio, AUC, sensitivity, and specificity for this purpose.

The researchers found PCT had a relatively low diagnostic utility for predicting sepsis,” with AUC 0.68, and both sensitivity and specificity of 63%.