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Update in sepsis guidelines: what is really new?

  • Author(s): Plevin, Rebecca
  • Callcut, Rachael
  • et al.
Abstract

Sepsis remains a highly lethal entity resulting in more than 200 000 deaths in the USA each year. The in-hospital mortality approaches 30% despite advances in critical care during the last several decades. The direct health care costs in the USA exceed $24 billion dollars annually and continue to escalate each year especially as the population ages. The Surviving Sepsis Campaign published their initial clinical practice guidelines for the management of severe sepsis and septic shock in 2004. Updated versions were published in 2008, 2012 and most recently in 2016 following the convening of the Third International Consensus Definitions Task Force. This task force was convened by the Society of Critical Care Medicine and the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine to address prior criticisms of the multiple definitions used clinically for sepsis-related illnesses. In the 2016 guidelines, sepsis is redefined by the taskforce as a life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by a dysregulated host response to infection. In addition to using the Sequential [Sepsis-related] Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score to more rapidly identify patients with sepsis, the task force also proposed a novel scoring system to rapidly screen for patients outside the ICU who are at risk of developing sepsis: the 'quickSOFA' (qSOFA) score. To date, the largest reductions in mortality have been associated with early identification of sepsis, initiation of a 3-hour care bundle and rapid administration of broad-spectrum antibiotics. The lack of progress in mortality reduction in sepsis treatment despite extraordinary investment of research resources underscores the variability in patients with sepsis. No single solution is likely to be universally beneficial, and sepsis continues to be an entity that should receive high priority for the development of precision health approaches for treatment.

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