Sepsis redefined: JAMA articles update guidance for the first time since 2001

A series of articles published in JAMA based on National Institutes of Health-funded research update the definition of sepsis and provide a more robust framework for clinicians and patients to treat the common hospital-acquired infection. This is the first major revision of sepsis and septic shock definitions since 2001.

"Considerable advances have been made in the study and care of sepsis and septic shock in the past 15 years, and there is an urgent need to help the medical community do a better job identifying septic patients quickly and start life-saving treatment," Derek C. Angus, MD, chair of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine's critical care medicine department, said in a statement. "Put simply, sepsis is a life-threatening organ dysfunction due to a dysregulated response of the patient's immune system to infection. Our intent is that this definition results in greater consistency for epidemiologic studies, clinical trials and — perhaps most important — better recognition and more timely management of patients with, or at risk of developing, sepsis."

In 2014, the Society of Critical Care Medicine and the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine curated a task force to re-examine the definition of sepsis based on advances in the condition's epidemiology and management. The updated definition the task force produced is designed to help providers get to a diagnosis more quickly, according to the researchers.

The new criteria include a sepsis-related organ failure assessment based on three symptoms — altered mental status, fast respiratory rate and low blood pressure — that do not require time-intensive blood tests and enable treatment to begin sooner. This system was developed through a review of more than 800,000 electronic health records at 177 hospitals across the world. 

More articles on infection control:

Checking in after an outbreak: Q&A with Dr. Andrew Ross on how Virginia Mason overhauled its medical scope reprocessing practices
Surgical tech arrested for Swedish Medical Center drug theft worked at Scripps Green
Study examines risk of CRE colonization becoming an infection: 3 findings 


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