Sepsis and septic shock: current approaches to management
Sepsis, defined as life‐threatening organ dysfunction due to a dysregulated host response to infection, is recognised by the World Health Organization as a global health priority. Each year, 5000 of the 18 000 adults with sepsis treated in Australian intensive care units die, with survivors suffering long‐term physical, cognitive and psychological dysfunction, which is poorly recognised and frequently untreated. There are currently no effective pharmacological treatments for sepsis, making early recognition, resuscitation and immediate treatment with appropriate antibiotics the key to reducing the burden of resulting disease. The majority of sepsis, around 70–80%, is community acquired making emergency departments and primary care key targets to improve recognition and early management. Case fatality rates for sepsis are decreasing in many countries with the reduction attributed to national or regional screening and quality improvement programmes focused on early identification and immediate treatment. The optimum approach to treating established sepsis has been informed by high‐quality, multicentre investigator initiated randomised trials with much of the valuable data coming from National Health and Medical Research Council‐funded trials run from Australia. While early recognition and improved management of the acute episode are important steps in reducing death and disability from sepsis, a substantial reduction in the burden of sepsis‐related disease requires action across the entire healthcare system. In this narrative review, we provide a summary of current knowledge on epidemiology of sepsis and septic shock and recommendations on the optimum approach to the management of these conditions in adults.
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