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Sepsis identification


Sepsis Infographic by Oxford Biosystems

Sepsis is a complex, potentially life-threatening inflammatory process caused by severe infection that can lead to severe sepsis and septic shock.

It is estimated that each year 147000 people in the UK are admitted to hospital with sepsis and 44000 deaths are attributed to sepsis due to the involvement of vital organs, although the number of cases could be significantly higher. Worldwide there is estimated to be 6-9 million cases each year, with 1 death every 3-4 seconds.

Patients surviving sepsis often experience long-term physical and psychological problems which impact on their quality of life. With the incidence of sepsis increasing every year, the cost of healthcare increases as well and the annual direct cost of sepsis care in the UK has been estimated to be £870 million. Early diagnosis and appropriate clinical management is essential to control the impact of sepsis.

The risk of death for sepsis patients increases by nearly 8% every hour that passes. The sooner the cause of the infection can be identified, the sooner an optimal treatment can be prescribed. Traditional bacterial culture methods can take many hours and molecular methods and MALDI-TOF are now widely used to identify the pathogen in a much shorter period of time. Antibiotic susceptibility tests are still relatively time-consuming and the increasing incidence of antimicrobial resistance must also be considered.

Biomarker response tests such as CRP and PCT (procalcitonin) are also very useful. These rapid tests are in indication of a response to acute pro-inflammatory stimuli. Although they provide no specific information regarding the causative pathogen or it’s antibiotic susceptibility, they provide an indication of infection within minutes and will rapidly increase as the infection progresses, and decrease as a result of appropriate treatment.

A combination of molecular, culture and biomarker tests may provide the most effective means of enabling effective clinical care.

  1. UK Sepsis Trust
  2. Surviving Sepsis Campaign. A collaboration between the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine and the Society of Critical Care Medicine
  3. Whitewater Charitable Trust. The Cost of Sepsis Care in the UK
  4. NHS
  5. NICE Guideline 51 Sepsis: recognition, diagnosis and early management
  6. World Sepsis Day Site
  7. World Sepsis Day (13th September) once again raised awareness of the need to diagnose Sepsis rapidly and accurately to prevent heart breaking consequences of Sepsis – As seen on BBC Panorama

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