• Lukas Langenegger

An effective sepsis treatment is needed now more than ever


We knew that treatment for sepsis is crucial and urgent for the health and survival of millions of people throughout the world, and Lancet is now confirming this with some shocking statistics. Rudd et al. (2020) present the most robust study yet on sepsis incidence and mortality, using data from 195 countries and territories, 282 underlying causes of sepsis, both sexes and 23 age groups over 27 years (1990-2017)(1). In 2017, an estimated 48.9 million incident cases of sepsis were recorded worldwide and approximately 11 million sepsis-related deaths were reported, representing 19.7 % of all global deaths.


The results show that previous numbers of sepsis incidence and mortality had been grossly underestimated due to the exclusion of low income areas such as sub-Saharan Africa where sepsis incidence is disproportionally higher to the West, as well as the exclusion of certain age groups such as children. While even recent studies report incident sepsis cases in children and neonates at 4.2 million in 2018(2), Rudd et al. have shown that in just the previous year the incidence was much higher at 25.2 million. Such discrepancies seem to be due to previous exclusions of low-income countries, patients who were not hospitalized and children. Indeed, over the 27 years studied, neonate disease had been in the top three leading causes for sepsis incidence globally. More to the point, the changed medical meaning of sepsis also contributes to these discrepancies.

While previously 'septicaemia' was a general term for a condition of a patient who was not well and could have a bloodstream infection, the modern meaning of sepsis focus on the imbalanced immune response following infection. Consequently, while modern definition of ‘sepsis’ covers a wider range of sepsis sources such as bacterial, fungal, viral and parasitic pathogens, it is focused on the main driving force behind sepsis-related morbidity and mortality; the immune response itself (1,3). Despite the 109 million death certificates and 309 million individual hospital records analysed for this study, the authors still believe that input data could still have been restricted as it was based on the accuracy of hospitalisation data which may have been questionable for locations where there is no input data. Yet, there is no question that an effective treatment is needed to reduce sepsis incidence and mortality globally. We recognise the need and the challenge, working to bring a novel technology combating sepsis to the world and the patients who need it. Read more about our technology here.

1 Rudd KE, Johnson SC, Agesa KM, Shackelford KA, Tsoi D, Kievlan DR et al. Global, regional, and national sepsis incidence and mortality, 1990–2017: analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study. Lancet 2020; 395: 200–211. 2 Fleischmann-Struzek C, Goldfarb DM, Schlattmann P, Schlapbach LJ, Reinhart K, Kissoon N. The global burden of paediatric and neonatal sepsis: a systematic review. Lancet Respir. Med. 2018. doi:10.1016/S2213-2600(18)30063-8. 3 Singer M, Deutschman CS, Seymour C, Shankar-Hari M, Annane D, Bauer M et al. The third international consensus definitions for sepsis and septic shock (sepsis-3). JAMA - J. Am. Med. Assoc. 2016. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.0287.

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