Am J Perinatol
DOI: 10.1055/a-2185-3931
Original Article

Characteristics and Outcomes of Obstetric Sepsis by Three Sets of Clinical Diagnostic Criteria: A Retrospective Study

Nicole Pohl
1   Department of Anesthesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Melissa Bauer
2   Department of Anesthesiology, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
Carlo Pancaro
1   Department of Anesthesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Ruth Cassidy
1   Department of Anesthesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Milo Engoren
1   Department of Anesthesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
› Author Affiliations
Funding This study was supported solely by departmental and institutional resources.


Objective Pregnancy-related mortality in the United States is the highest of all developed nations with a reported rate of 17 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2014 to 2017. Sepsis-related mortality is a major component of pregnancy-related mortality. Similar to nonpregnancy-related sepsis, the criteria for pregnancy-related sepsis are evolving. The purposes of this study were to compare three criteria for sepsis (Sepsis-2, Sepsis-3, California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative [CMQCC]) with one another and to determine patient outcomes using those three sets of criteria.

Study Design Using the electronic medical record, we obtained granular data on all patients at University of Michigan Medical Center from July 10, 2009 to September 4, 2019 with suspected sepsis (blood cultures and administration of antibiotics) during pregnancy until the 42nd postpartum day. Agreement between the three criteria were assessed with kappa and shown by a Venn diagram. Groups were compared using standardized differences and chi square, rank sum, or independent t-tests.

Results Of the 228 patients having sepsis by any criteria, 191 (83%) patients met the criteria for Sepsis-2, 131 (57%) for Sepsis-3, and 62 (27%) met criteria according to CMQCC. Agreement between the three criteria ranged from kappa = 0.13 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.09, 0.18) to kappa = 0.31 (95% CI: 0.23, 0.39). Patients who met CMQCC criteria tended to have more comorbidities and higher APACHE II (Acute Physiology And Chronic Health Evaluation) scores. Mortality (by 90 days) among the groups was low with 10 (4%) patients dying. Patients meeting criteria for CMQCC sepsis had higher mortality than the non-CMQCC patients with sepsis (10 vs. 2%, standardized difference = 0.31, p = 0.027).

Conclusion The agreement among Sepsis-2, Sepsis-3, and CMQCC diagnostic criteria is weak. CMQCC criteria identifies patients with sepsis at higher risk of death.

Key Points

  • Agreements (kappa) between the three criteria are poor.

  • CMQCC sepsis patients have more comorbidities.

  • Endometritis was the most common cause of sepsis.

  • CMQCC mortality was 10%; non-CMQCC mortality was 2%.

Publication History

Received: 26 December 2022

Accepted: 26 September 2023

Accepted Manuscript online:
04 October 2023

Article published online:
07 November 2023

© 2023. Thieme. All rights reserved.

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