The latest guidelines on sepsis will affect how we practise medicine, say Philip Haji-Michael and Matthew Cove
- By: Philip Haji-Michael, Matthew Cove
It surprises many people to learn that sepsis is still common and on the rise. Studies in the United States report an incidence of 2.4-3.0 per 1000 population per year, a figure which is anticipated to increase by 1.5%, or more, each year.12 Also, almost one third of patients admitted to UK intensive care units have severe sepsis—that is, sepsis that results in organ failure.3 And sepsis is responsible for almost one fifth of surgical deaths.4 Not only is it still common, it is also surprisingly lethal. Barely more than 50% of patients with severe sepsis survive their hospital admission.35 That's 50 times more lethal than cardiac surgery, 10 times more risky than a myocardial infarct, and five times worse than a stroke.
The severity and rising incidence of sepsis, combined with a need to rationalise its treatment, has resulted in the recent release of joint international guidelines from US