New criteria for defining sepsis

Public health

25 Feb 2016

New sepsis and septic shock definitions released by an international task force this week shift the focus to organ dysfunction.

The new definitions were presented at the Society of Critical Care Medicine’s 45th Critical Care Congress and published simultaneously in JAMA.

According to the new definition sepsis was a:  “life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by a dysregulated host response to infection”.

“[The task force] felt very strongly that we needed to differentiate a straightforward infection from one that can cause organ dysfunction or death,” said Mervyn Singer, MD, the guidelines’ co-lead author and director of the Bloomsbury Institute for Intensive Care Medicine at University College London.

The new emphasis on organ dysfunction, rather than infection, stems from an evolving understanding of the pathophysiology of sepsis that encompasses both inflammatory and anti-inflammatory responses and coagulation, metabolic, and hormonal changes, he said.

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