PURPOSE To determine the effect of random assignment to fluid resuscitation with albumin or saline on organ function and mortality in patients with severe sepsis. METHODS Pre-defined subgroup analysis of a randomized controlled trial conducted in the intensive care units of 16 hospitals in Australia and New Zealand. RESULTS Of 1,218 patients with severe sepsis at baseline, 603 and 615
were assigned to receive albumin and saline, respectively. The two groups had similar baseline characteristics. During the first 7 days mean arterial pressure was similar in the two groups, but patients assigned albumin had a lower heart rate on days 1 and 3 (p = 0.002 and p = 0.03, respectively) and a higher central venous pressure on days 1-3 (p < 0.005 each day). There was no difference in the renal or total Sequential Organ Failure Assessment score of the two groups; 113/603 (18.7%) of patients assigned albumin were treated with renal replacement therapy compared to 112/615 (18.2%) assigned saline (p = 0.98). The unadjusted relative risk of death for albumin versus saline was 0.87 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.74-1.02] for patients with severe sepsis and 1.05 (0.94-1.17) for patients without severe sepsis (p = 0.06 for heterogeneity). From multivariate logistic regression analysis adjusting for baseline factors in patients with complete baseline data (919/1,218, 75.5%), the adjusted odds ratio for death for albumin versus saline was 0.71 (95% CI: 0.52-0.97; p = 0.03). CONCLUSIONS Administration of albumin compared to saline did not impair renal or other organ function and may have decreased the risk of death.