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Crit Care. 2004 Aug;8(4):R153-62. Epub 2004 May 14.

Prevalence and incidence of severe sepsis in Dutch intensive care units.

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Research Associate, PharMerit BV, Capelle aan den IJssel, The Netherlands.



Severe sepsis is a dreaded consequence of infection and necessitates intensive care treatment. Severe sepsis has a profound impact on mortality and on hospital costs, but recent incidence data from The Netherlands are not available. The purpose of the present study was to determine the prevalence and incidence of severe sepsis occurring during the first 24 hours of admission in Dutch intensive care units (ICUs).


Forty-seven ICUs in The Netherlands participated in a point prevalence survey and included patients with infection at the time of ICU admission. Clinical symptoms of severe sepsis during the first 24 hours of each patient's ICU stay were recorded and the prevalence of severe sepsis was calculated. Then, the annual incidence of severe sepsis in The Netherlands was estimated, based on the prevalence, the estimated length of stay, and the capacity of the participating ICUs relative to the national intensive care capacity.


The participating ICUs had 442 beds available for admissions, which was estimated to be 42% of the national ICU capacity. At the time of the survey, 455 patients were currently admitted and 151 were included in the analysis; 134 (29.5%) patients met criteria for severe sepsis. The most common failing organ system was the respiratory system (90%), and most patients were admitted following surgery (37%) and were admitted because of acute infection (62%). The most prevalent source of infection was the lung (47%). The estimated duration of ICU stay for severe sepsis patients was 13.3 +/- 1.1 days.


The annual number of admissions for severe sepsis in Dutch ICUs was calculated at 8643 +/- 929 cases/year, which is 0.054% of the population, 0.61% of hospital admissions and 11% of ICU admissions.

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