Do Bacteremic patients with end-stage renal disease have a fever when presenting to the emergency department? A paired, retrospective cohort study

BACKGROUND Fever is a common symptom when patients present to Emergency Departments. It is unclear if the febrile response of bacteremic hemodialysis-dependent patients differs from bacteremic patients not receiving hemodialysis. The objective of this study was to compare Emergency Departments triage temperatures of patients with and without hemodialysis-dependent end-stage rental disease who have Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia and determine the incidence of afebrile S. aureus bacteremia.
METHODS Paired, retrospective cohort study of 37 patients with and 37 patients without hemodialysis hospitalized with Methicillin-resistant or Methicillin-susceptible S. aureus bacteremia. Emergency Department triage temperatures were reviewed for all patients, as were potential confounding variables.
RESULTS 54% (95% CI, 38-70%) and 82% (95% CI 65-91%) of hemodialysis and non-hemodialysis patients did not have a detectable fever (<100.4 °F) at triage. Triage temperatures were 100.5 °F (95% CI 99.9-101.2 °F) and 99.0 °F (95% CI 98.4-99.6 °F) in the hemodialysis and non-hemodialysis cohorts, respectively (p < 0.001). Triage temperature in patients with and without diabetes mellitus was 99.2 °F (95% CI 98.4-99.9 °F) and 100.4 °F (95% CI 99.7-101.0 °F), respectively (p = 0.03). We were unable to detect a significant effect of diabetes mellitus and other potential confounding variables on differences in temperature between the hemodialysis and non-hemodialysis cohorts (all interactions p > 0.19).
CONCLUSIONS Hemodialysis-dependent patients with S. aureus bacteremia had significantly higher temperatures than non- hemodialysis-dependent end stage renal disease patients but more than half of patients were without detectable fever at triage, possibly reflecting use of insensitive methods for measuring temperature. Absence of fever at presentation to the Emergency Department should not delay blood culture acquisition in patients who are at increased risk of S. aureus bacteremia.

as reported in: BMC Emerg Med. 2020 Jan 9; 20(1): 2