Updated sepsis guidelines

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Updated definitions and clinical criteria for sepsis should facilitate earlier recognition and more timely management of patients with or at risk of developing sepsis. The report is being released to coincide with its presentation at the Society of Critical Care Medicine’s 45th Critical Care Congress.

Sepsis, a syndrome of physiologic, pathologic, and biochemical abnormalities induced by infection, is a major public health concern, accounting for more than $20bn (5.2%) of total US hospital costs in 2011. The reported incidence is increasing. Although the true incidence of sepsis is unknown, conservative estimates indicate that sepsis is a leading cause of mortality and critical illness worldwide. In addition, there is increasing awareness that patients who survive sepsis often have long-term physical, psychological, and cognitive disabilities with significant health care and social implications.

Definitions of sepsis and septic shock were last revised in 2001. Considerable advances have since been made into the pathophysiology, management, and epidemiology of sepsis, suggesting the need for reexamination. In January 2014, a task force (n = 19) with expertise in sepsis pathophysiology, clinical trials, and epidemiology was convened by the Society of Critical Care Medicine and the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine to evaluate and, as needed, update definitions for sepsis and septic shock. Definitions and clinical criteria were generated through meetings, Delphi processes, analysis of electronic health record databases, and voting, followed by circulation to international professional societies, requesting peer review and endorsement.

Recommendations include: Sepsis should be defined as life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by a dys-regulated host response to infection; and septic shock should be defined as a subset of sepsis in which particularly profound circulatory, cellular, and metabolic abnormalities are associated with a greater risk of mortality than with sepsis alone.

In out-of-hospital, emergency department, or general hospital ward settings, adult patients with suspected infection can be rapidly identified as being more likely to have poor outcomes typical of sepsis if they have at least 2 of the following clinical criteria that together constitute a new bedside clinical score termed quick Sequential (Sepsis-related) Organ Failure Assessment (qSOFA): respiratory rate of 22/min or greater, altered mentation (mental activity), or systolic blood pressure of 100 mm Hg or less.

“The debate and discussion that this work will inevitably generate are encouraged. Aspects of the new definitions do indeed rely on expert opinion; further understanding of the biology of sepsis, the availability of new diagnostic approaches, and enhanced collection of data will fuel their continued reevaluation and revision,” the authors write.

Abstract
Importance: Definitions of sepsis and septic shock were last revised in 2001. Considerable advances have since been made into the pathobiology (changes in organ function, morphology, cell biology, biochemistry, immunology, and circulation), management, and epidemiology of sepsis, suggesting the need for reexamination.
Objective: To evaluate and, as needed, update definitions for sepsis and septic shock.
Process: A task force (n = 19) with expertise in sepsis pathobiology, clinical trials, and epidemiology was convened by the Society of Critical Care Medicine and the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine. Definitions and clinical criteria were generated through meetings, Delphi processes, analysis of electronic health record databases, and voting, followed by circulation to international professional societies, requesting peer review and endorsement (by 31 societies listed in the Acknowledgment).
Key Findings From Evidence Synthesis: Limitations of previous definitions included an excessive focus on inflammation, the misleading model that sepsis follows a continuum through severe sepsis to shock, and inadequate specificity and sensitivity of the systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) criteria. Multiple definitions and terminologies are currently in use for sepsis, septic shock, and organ dysfunction, leading to discrepancies in reported incidence and observed mortality. The task force concluded the term severe sepsis was redundant.
Recommendations: Sepsis should be defined as life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by a dysregulated host response to infection. For clinical operationalization, organ dysfunction can be represented by an increase in the Sequential [Sepsis-related] Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score of 2 points or more, which is associated with an in-hospital mortality greater than 10%. Septic shock should be defined as a subset of sepsis in which particularly profound circulatory, cellular, and metabolic abnormalities are associated with a greater risk of mortality than with sepsis alone. Patients with septic shock can be clinically identified by a vasopressor requirement to maintain a mean arterial pressure of 65 mm Hg or greater and serum lactate level greater than 2 mmol/L (>18 mg/dL) in the absence of hypovolemia. This combination is associated with hospital mortality rates greater than 40%. In out-of-hospital, emergency department, or general hospital ward settings, adult patients with suspected infection can be rapidly identified as being more likely to have poor outcomes typical of sepsis if they have at least 2 of the following clinical criteria that together constitute a new bedside clinical score termed quickSOFA (qSOFA): respiratory rate of 22/min or greater, altered mentation, or systolic blood pressure of 100 mm Hg or less.
Conclusions and Relevance: These updated definitions and clinical criteria should replace previous definitions, offer greater consistency for epidemiologic studies and clinical trials, and facilitate earlier recognition and more timely management of patients with sepsis or at risk of developing sepsis.

Abstract 1
Importance: The Third International Consensus Definitions Task Force defined sepsis as “life-threatening organ dysfunction due to a dysregulated host response to infection.” The performance of clinical criteria for this sepsis definition is unknown.
Objective: To evaluate the validity of clinical criteria to identify patients with suspected infection who are at risk of sepsis.
Design, Settings, and Population: Among 1.3 million electronic health record encounters from January 1, 2010, to December 31, 2012, at 12 hospitals in southwestern Pennsylvania, we identified those with suspected infection in whom to compare criteria. Confirmatory analyses were performed in 4 data sets of 706 399 out-of-hospital and hospital encounters at 165 US and non-US hospitals ranging from January 1, 2008, until December 31, 2013.
Exposures: Sequential [Sepsis-related] Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score, systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) criteria, Logistic Organ Dysfunction System (LODS) score, and a new model derived using multivariable logistic regression in a split sample, the quick Sequential [Sepsis-related] Organ Failure Assessment (qSOFA) score (range, 0-3 points, with 1 point each for systolic hypotension [≤100 mm Hg], tachypnea [≥22/min], or altered mentation).
Main Outcomes and Measures: For construct validity, pairwise agreement was assessed. For predictive validity, the discrimination for outcomes (primary: in-hospital mortality; secondary: in-hospital mortality or intensive care unit [ICU] length of stay ≥3 days) more common in sepsis than uncomplicated infection was determined. Results were expressed as the fold change in outcome over deciles of baseline risk of death and area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC).
Results: In the primary cohort, 148 907 encounters had suspected infection (n = 74 453 derivation; n = 74 454 validation), of whom 6347 (4%) died. Among ICU encounters in the validation cohort (n = 7932 with suspected infection, of whom 1289 [16%] died), the predictive validity for in-hospital mortality was lower for SIRS (AUROC = 0.64; 95% CI, 0.62-0.66) and qSOFA (AUROC = 0.66; 95% CI, 0.64-0.68) vs SOFA (AUROC = 0.74; 95% CI, 0.73-0.76; P < .001 for both) or LODS (AUROC = 0.75; 95% CI, 0.73-0.76; P < .001 for both). Among non-ICU encounters in the validation cohort (n = 66 522 with suspected infection, of whom 1886 [3%] died), qSOFA had predictive validity (AUROC = 0.81; 95% CI, 0.80-0.82) that was greater than SOFA (AUROC = 0.79; 95% CI, 0.78-0.80; P < .001) and SIRS (AUROC = 0.76; 95% CI, 0.75-0.77; P < .001). Relative to qSOFA scores lower than 2, encounters with qSOFA scores of 2 or higher had a 3- to 14-fold increase in hospital mortality across baseline risk deciles. Findings were similar in external data sets and for the secondary outcome.
Conclusions and Relevance: Among ICU encounters with suspected infection, the predictive validity for in-hospital mortality of SOFA was not significantly different than the more complex LODS but was statistically greater than SIRS and qSOFA, supporting its use in clinical criteria for sepsis. Among encounters with suspected infection outside of the ICU, the predictive validity for in-hospital mortality of qSOFA was statistically greater than SOFA and SIRS, supporting its use as a prompt to consider possible sepsis.

Abstract 2
Importance: Septic shock currently refers to a state of acute circulatory failure associated with infection. Emerging biological insights and reported variation in epidemiology challenge the validity of this definition.
Objective: To develop a new definition and clinical criteria for identifying septic shock in adults.
Design, Setting, and Participants: The Society of Critical Care Medicine and the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine convened a task force (19 participants) to revise current sepsis/septic shock definitions. Three sets of studies were conducted: (1) a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies in adults published between January 1, 1992, and December 25, 2015, to determine clinical criteria currently reported to identify septic shock and inform the Delphi process; (2) a Delphi study among the task force comprising 3 surveys and discussions of results from the systematic review, surveys, and cohort studies to achieve consensus on a new septic shock definition and clinical criteria; and (3) cohort studies to test variables identified by the Delphi process using Surviving Sepsis Campaign (SSC) (2005-2010; n = 28 150), University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) (2010-2012; n = 1 309 025), and Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC) (2009-2013; n = 1 847 165) electronic health record (EHR) data sets.
Main Outcomes and Measures: Evidence for and agreement on septic shock definitions and criteria.
Results: The systematic review identified 44 studies reporting septic shock outcomes (total of 166 479 patients) from a total of 92 sepsis epidemiology studies reporting different cutoffs and combinations for blood pressure (BP), fluid resuscitation, vasopressors, serum lactate level, and base deficit to identify septic shock. The septic shock–associated crude mortality was 46.5% (95% CI, 42.7%-50.3%), with significant between-study statistical heterogeneity (I2 = 99.5%; τ2 = 182.5; P < .001). The Delphi process identified hypotension, serum lactate level, and vasopressor therapy as variables to test using cohort studies. Based on these 3 variables alone or in combination, 6 patient groups were generated. Examination of the SSC database demonstrated that the patient group requiring vasopressors to maintain mean BP 65 mm Hg or greater and having a serum lactate level greater than 2 mmol/L (18 mg/dL) after fluid resuscitation had a significantly higher mortality (42.3% [95% CI, 41.2%-43.3%]) in risk-adjusted comparisons with the other 5 groups derived using either serum lactate level greater than 2 mmol/L alone or combinations of hypotension, vasopressors, and serum lactate level 2 mmol/L or lower. These findings were validated in the UPMC and KPNC data sets.
Conclusions and Relevance: Based on a consensus process using results from a systematic review, surveys, and cohort studies, septic shock is defined as a subset of sepsis in which underlying circulatory, cellular, and metabolic abnormalities are associated with a greater risk of mortality than sepsis alone. Adult patients with septic shock can be identified using the clinical criteria of hypotension requiring vasopressor therapy to maintain mean BP 65 mm Hg or greater and having a serum lactate level greater than 2 mmol/L after adequate fluid resuscitation.

JAMA material
JAMA special communication abstract
JAMA original investigation 1
JAMA original investigation 2
JAMA editorial


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