HM19: Pediatric sepsis

Improving recognition and treatment



Elise van der Jagt, MD, MPH

Workshop title

What you need to know about pediatric sepsis

Session summary

Dr. Elise van der Jagt of the University of Rochester (N.Y.) Medical Center, introduced the topic of pediatric sepsis and its epidemiology with the story of 12-year-old Rory Staunton, who died in 2012 of sepsis. In pediatrics, sepsis is the 10th leading cause of death, with severe sepsis having a mortality rate of 4%-10%. As a response to Rory Staunton’s death from sepsis, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo mandated all hospitals to implement ways to improve recognition and treatment of septic shock, especially in children.

The definition and management of sepsis in pediatrics is complex, and forms a spectrum of disease from sepsis to severe sepsis, and septic shock. Dr. van der Jagt advised not to use the adult sepsis definition in children. Sepsis, stated Dr. van der Jagt, is systemic inflammatory response syndrome in association with suspected or proven infection. Severe sepsis is sepsis with cardiovascular dysfunction, respiratory dysfunction, or dysfunction of two other systems. Septic shock is sepsis with cardiovascular dysfunction that persists despite 40 mL/kg of fluid bolus in 1 hour.

Early recognition and management of sepsis decreases mortality. Early recognition can be improved by initiating a recognition bundle. Multiple trigger tools are available such as pSOFA (Pediatric Sequential Organ Failure Assessment). Any trigger tool, however, must be combined with physician evaluation. This clinician assessment should be initiated within 15 minutes for any patient who screens positive with a trigger tool.

Resuscitation bundles also decrease mortality. A good goal is establishing intravenous or intraosseous access within 5 minutes, fluid administration within 30 minutes, and antibiotics and inotrope administration (if needed) in 60 minutes. Resuscitation bundles could include a sepsis clock, rapid response team, check list, protocol, and order set. Additional studies are needed to determine which of the components of a sepsis bundle is most important. Studies show that mortality increases with delays in initiating fluids and less fluids given. However, giving too much fluid also increases morbidity. It is imperative, stated Dr. van der Jagt, to reassess after fluid boluses. Use of lactate measurement can be problematic in pediatrics, as normal lactate can be seen with florid sepsis.

Stabilization bundles are more common in the ICU setting. They include an arterial line, central venous pressure, cardiopulmonary monitor, urinary catheter, and pulse oximeter. A performance bundle is important to assess adherence to the other bundles. This could include providing debriefing, data review, feedback, and formal quality improvement projects. Assigning a sepsis champion in each area helps to overcome barriers and continue performance bundles.

Key takeaways for HM

  • Patients with severe sepsis/septic shock should be rapidly identified with the 2014/2017 American College of Critical Care Medicine consensus criteria.
  • Efficient, time-based care should be provided during the first hour after recognizing pediatric severe sepsis/septic shock.
  • Overcoming systems barriers to rapid sepsis recognition and treatment requires sepsis champions in each area, continuous data collection and feedback, persistence, and patience.

Dr. Eboh is a pediatric hospitalist at Covenant Children’s Hospital in Lubbock, Texas, and assistant professor of pediatrics at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. Dr. Wright is a pediatric hospitalist at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

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