Implementation and outcomes of the Multiple Urgent Sepsis Therapies (MUST) protocol* : Critical Care Medicine

Journal Logo

Clinical Investigations

Implementation and outcomes of the Multiple Urgent Sepsis Therapies (MUST) protocol*

Shapiro, Nathan I. MD, MPH; Howell, Michael D. MD; Talmor, Daniel MD, MPH; Lahey, Dermot BA; Ngo, Long PhD; Buras, Jon MD, PhD; Wolfe, Richard E. MD; Weiss, J Woodrow MD; Lisbon, Alan MD

Author Information
Critical Care Medicine 34(4):p 1025-1032, April 2006. | DOI: 10.1097/01.CCM.0000206104.18647.A8



To describe the effectiveness of a comprehensive, interdisciplinary sepsis treatment protocol with regard to both implementation and outcomes and to compare the mortality rates and therapies of patients with septic shock with similar historical controls.


Prospective, interventional cohort study with a historical control comparison group.


Urban, tertiary care, university hospital with 46,000 emergency department visits and 4,100 intensive care unit admissions annually.


Inclusion criteria were a) emergency department patients aged ≥18 yrs, b) suspected infection, and c) lactate of >4 mmol/L or septic shock. Exclusion criteria were a) emergent operation, b) prehospital cardiac arrest, and c) comfort measures only. Time period: protocol, November 10, 2003, through November 9, 2004; historical controls, February 1, 2000, through January 31, 2001.


A sepsis treatment pathway incorporating empirical antibiotics, early goal-directed therapy, drotrecogin alfa, steroids, intensive insulin therapy, and lung-protective ventilation.

Measurements and Main Results: 

There were 116 protocol patients, with a mortality rate of 18% (11–25%), of which 79 patients had septic shock. Comparing these patients with 51 historical controls, protocol patients received more fluid (4.0 vs. 2.5 L crystalloid, p < .001), earlier antibiotics (90 vs. 120 mins, p < .013), more appropriate empirical coverage (97% vs. 88%, p < .05), more vasopressors in the first 6 hrs (80% vs. 45%, p < .001), tighter glucose control (mean morning glucose, 123 vs. 140, p < .001), and more frequent assessment of adrenal function (82% vs. 10%, p < .001), with a nonstatistically significant increase in dobutamine use (14% vs. 4%, p = .06) and red blood cell transfusions (30% vs. 18%, p = .07) in the first 24 hrs. For protocol patients with septic shock, 28-day in-hospital mortality was 20.3% compared with 29.4% for historical controls (p = .3).


Clinical implementation of a comprehensive sepsis treatment protocol is feasible and is associated with changes in therapies such as time to antibiotics, intravenous fluid delivery, and vasopressor use in the first 6 hrs. No statistically significant decrease in mortality was demonstrated, as this trial was not sufficiently powered to assess mortality benefits.

© 2006 by the Society of Critical Care Medicine and Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

Full Text Access for Subscribers:

You can read the full text of this article if you:

Access through Ovid