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World Sepsis Day: Stop Sepsis, Save Lives

Today is the first annual World Sepsis Day! It is supported by a fanfare of events around the world, with each countries organizing events, securing media coverage, and engaging professional and public bodies together with health worker champions and people who have been personally affected by sepsis. The goal of the campaign is to cut the number of cases globally by 20 percent and improve awareness among the public and the medical profession as well as aim to improve rehabilitation services for survivors.

Visit the World Sepsis Day website!

Sepsis is and remains to be a key focus here at the Department of Critical Care Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh (CCM). CCM is proud to support World Sepsis Day and encourages you to gain awareness and learn more about sepsis and what CCM is doing to combat this deadly condition.

World Sepsis Day, for the first time ever, will provide a clear focus on sepsis which extends beyond professional and academic needs. This will give the global sepsis community the identity it requires to create and maintain effective collaborations which will help not only to fuel the desire, but also to provide the means and infrastructure to make a difference with sepsis.

What is Sepsis?

Sepsis is common and often deadly. It remains the primary cause of death from infection, despite advances in modern medicine like vaccines, antibiotics, and intensive care. Often misunderstood as “blood poisoning”, sepsis today is one of the leading causes of death around the world.

"Sepsis is a process, it is born through the womb of innate immunity and its response to antigen expressing itself system wide. But although the inflammatory response is the mother of sepsis, sepsis has many potential fathers and their identification and treatment can vary widely."

Michael R. Pinsky, MD, CM, Dr hc, MCCM, FCCP
Vice-Chair, Academic Affairs
Professor of Critical Care Medicine, Bioengineering, Cardiovascular Disease and Anesthesiology

Dr. Watson discusses his influential paper demonstrating the national scale of pediatric severe sepsis

Q: What are the key points or highlights of your paper? 

A: We found that more than 42,000 children in the US were hospitalized with severe sepsis in 1995, with a mortality rate of 10.3%. The total cost of those hospitalizations was nearly $2 billion. The 4400 children that died in the US after severe sepsis was 7% of all deaths in children that year, and more than the number of children who died with cancer.

Q: Why is your paper influential?

A: When Dr. Derek Angus developed the methodology to identify patients likely to have had severe sepsis using large administrative data sets, it gave us a chance to really begin to understand the epidemiology of this important syndrome across large populations. Our study generated the first large-scale estimates of severe sepsis among children in the US, providing a real sense of its magnitude and the characteristics and outcome of children developing it.

Q: What is next for this type of sepsis research?

A: Of course, we need more effective diagnosis and treatment strategies for severe sepsis. From the clinical epidemiology/health services research perspective, we need to understand how the epidemiology is changing over time, particularly the widespread impact of prevention strategies (e.g., initiatives to decrease hospital-acquired infections, new vaccines), treatment strategies (e.g., early goal-directed therapy, the ACCM sepsis guidelines), and changing patterns of care. Studies using large-scale data sources with more clinical detail than is currently available from administrative data could be extremely useful for understanding the impact of specific elements of care and for planning prospective studies. Finally, we really need to have an understanding of the long-term consequence of severe sepsis and its treatment on children and their families.

Read Dr. Watson’s paper here: AJRCCM. Learn more about CCM’s authors on this paper: Scott Watson, MD, MPH; Joseph Carcillo, MD; Gilles Clermont, MD, MSc; Derek. C. Angus, MD, MPH, FRCP