Several severity scoring systems have been proposed for skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs), but none has been tested prospectively.
We prospectively enrolled adult, acute medical admissions with SSTI between April 2009 and June 2010. Severity was assessed using two proposed SSTI scoring systems, one based on a generic sepsis definition. Antimicrobial prescribing was compared with guideline recommendations.
We enrolled 79 patients. One of the scoring systems classified 47 into class I (no sepsis or comorbidity), 5 into class II (no sepsis, but comorbidity), 34 into class III [sepsis, but standardized early warning system (SEWS) 4], and 14 into class IV (sepsis with SEWS epsilon 4). The other system classified 39 as mild and 61 as moderate/severe. There were significant discrepancies between the two scoring systems. Using the worst clinical observations in the first 24 h, 19 of patients had more severe disease than was apparent on admission. Under-treatment of patients with sepsis occurred in 13 of patients according to admission observations, increasing to 22 according to the worst observations. Seventy-nine percent of patients with sepsis received antibiotics within 4 h of admission. This was associated with fewer adverse outcomes (P0.05).
There is significant room for improvement in the management of SSTIs presenting to acute medical units. The added value of specific SSTI severity scores over generic sepsis assessment requires validation in a larger prospective study. We have changed our antibiotics policy for SSTI to use generic sepsis scores, and we emphasize the need to reassess patients on the day of admission.