Patricia Kritek MD, EdM
Sepsis update: From screening to refractory shock
Each year 1.7 million adults in America develop sepsis, and 270,000 Americans die from sepsis annually. Sepsis costs U.S. health care over $27 billion dollars each year. Because of the wide range of etiologies and variation in presentation and intensity, it is a challenge to establish homogeneous evidence based guidelines.1
The definition of sepsis based on the “SIRS” criterion was developed initially in 1992, later revised as Sepsis-2 in 2001. The latest Sepsis-3 definition – “life-threatening organ dysfunction due to a dysregulated host response to infection” – was developed in 2016 by the Third International Consensus Definitions for Sepsis and Septic Shock. This newest definition has renounced the SIRS criterion and adopted the Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score. Treatment guidelines in sepsis were developed by the Surviving Sepsis Campaign starting with the Barcelona Declaration in 2002 and revised multiple times, with the development of 3-hour and 6-hour care bundles in 2012. The latest revision, in 2018, consolidated to a 1-hour bundle.2
Sepsis is a continuum of every severe infection, and with the combined efforts of the Society of Critical Care Medicine and the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine, evidence-based guidelines have been developed over the past 2 decades, with the latest iteration in 2018. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services still uses Sepsis-2 for diagnosis, and the 3-hr/6-hr bundle compliance (2016) for expected care.3
Dr. Kritek, of the division of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine at the University of Washington, Seattle, presented to a room of over 1,000 enthusiastic hospitalists. She was able to capture everyone’s attention with a great presentation. As sepsis is one of the most common and serious conditions we encounter, most hospitalists are fairly well versed in evidence-based practices, and Dr. Kritek was able to keep us engaged, describing in detail the evolving definition, pathophysiology, and screening procedures for sepsis. She also spoke about important studies and the latest evidence that will positively impact each hospitalist’s practice in treating sepsis.
Dr. Kritek explained clearly how the Surviving Sepsis Campaign developed a vital and nontraditional guideline that “recommends health systems have a performance improvement program for sepsis including screening for high-risk patients.” In a 1-hour session, Dr. Kritek did a commendable job untangling this bewildering health care challenge, and aligned each component to explain how to best use available resources and address sepsis in individual hospitals.
She talked about the statistics and historical aspects involved in the definition of sepsis, and the Surviving Sepsis Campaign. With three good case scenarios, Dr. Kritek explained how it was difficult to accurately diagnose sepsis using the Sepsis-2/SIRS criterion, and how the SIRS criterion led to several false positives. This created a need for the new Sepsis-3 definition, which used delta SOFA score of 2 indicating “organ failure.”