Researchers develop test to predict sepsis in burn patients

U.K.-based University of Birmingham researchers have identified three biomarkers that can be used to accurately predict risk of sepsis for burn patients.

The team identified reduced neutrophil function, elevated immature granulocyte count and plasma cell-free DNA as markers indicative of onset of sepsis. The combined measurement of these three markers one day post-significant burn injury was a good determining factor for identifying septic patients, according to the research.

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"Burn patients who suffer systemic infection have a high probability of non-surviving their injury," Janet Lord, PhD, lead researcher on the study, said in a statement. "This discovery will enable the clinicians to stratify the care of these patients and improve their outcomes. Major burn injuries result in a systemic inflammatory response syndrome and reduced immune function, which increases the risk of patients developing sepsis or infections in hospitals."

Delaying sepsis diagnosis even by a few hours can lead to a significant increase in mortality, according to the researchers. Generally, antibiotic administration is recommended within three hours of recognizing sepsis, but only if blood cultures confirm the diagnosis. However, cases are often missed — only about 40 percent of these cultures return positive results.

In addition to its potential to act as a diagnostic for sepsis the test could potentially act as a way to reduce sepsis susceptibility in hospital patients, the researchers said. Their findings are published in Annals of Surgery

More articles on sepsis:

Combatting infections before they occur with real-time and predictive analytics 
This technology is revolutionizing pathogen detection methods 
MEDITECH launches sepsis toolkit in EHR 

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