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Crit Care Med. 2003 Feb;31(2):390-4.

Bacteremic sepsis in intensive care: temporal trends in incidence, organ dysfunction, and prognosis.

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Infection Control Program, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Geneva Hospitals, Switzerland.



To determine whether changes have occurred at our center in the incidence, patterns of organ dysfunctions, prognostic factors, and case-fatality rate of bacteremic sepsis.


Retrospective comparative study (1984-1988 vs. 1994-1997).


University hospital surgical intensive care unit.


A total of 372 critically ill patients with sepsis and positive blood cultures.




In the 1984-1988 study, 176 patients developed bacteremic sepsis (3.2 per 100 admissions), with a fatality rate of 35% at 28 days, whereas in the 1994-1997 study, 196 patients had bacteremic sepsis (4.3 per 100 admissions), with a 28-day fatality rate of 37%. The frequency of primary bacteremia increased from 21% to 47% (p <.001), paralleled by an increase in the proportional frequency of Gram-positive microorganisms. In 1984-1988, 69% (n = 120) of patients had at least one organ dysfunction, compared with 80% (n = 156) in 1994-1997 (p =.02). The prevalence of pulmonary and cardiac dysfunction increased. The case- fatality rate of septic shock remained high (69% vs. 68%). For both cohorts, the two strongest predictors of mortality remained the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II score at the onset of sepsis and the number of evolving organ dysfunctions.


The fatality rate of bacteremic sepsis remained constant over the study period, despite an increased incidence of bacteremia and associated organ dysfunction. Continued efforts need to be directed toward the prevention of bacteremic sepsis, given the magnitude and poor prognosis of this syndrome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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