Why we need a new definition of sepsis

Sarah J. Beesley, Michael J. Lanspa


On April 23, 2015, Kaukonen and colleagues published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled “Systemic inflammatory response syndrome criteria in defining severe sepsis”, which investigated the sensitivity and validity of using SIRS criteria to define intensive care unit (ICU) patients with severe sepsis. This study used admission data of over 100,000 patients in order to investigate patients with severe sepsis who either met or didn’t meet SIRS criteria. The investigators found that in-hospital mortality increased linearly with the number of SIRS criteria met; raising concern that SIRS criterion is not sensitive enough. This study of SIRS criteria raises important questions about the recognition and diagnosis of severe sepsis.

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