Fever (oral temperature of 38°C or more on two or more consecutive days) during the hospital stay of 4,065 patients admitted to Grady Memorial Hospital during an 11-week period was studied. At least one episode of fever occurred in 1,194 patients (29 percent). Rates of fever were highest on medical and surgical services. Review of 341 episodes of fever in 302 patients on the medical service identified a single potential cause in 56 percent. Multiple factors were present in 26 percent, and no potential causes were found in 18 percent. Of 390 factors identified, 44 percent were community-acquired infections, 9 percent were nosocomial infections, 20 percent possibly involved infection, and 26 percent were noninfectious processes. Fever is a frequent finding in hospitalized patients. Both infectious and noninfectious processes play important roles. Determining the cause of fever is complicated by the multiplicity of possible causes.
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