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Shock. 2012 Jan;37(1):4-16. doi: 10.1097/SHK.0b013e318237d6bf.

Comparison of mortality associated with sepsis in the burn, trauma, and general intensive care unit patient: a systematic review of the literature.

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University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, Texas, USA.


The purpose of this systematic review of the literature was to determine the association of sepsis with mortality in the severely injured adult patient by means of a comparative analysis of sepsis in burn and trauma injury with other critically ill populations. The MEDLINE (PubMed), Cochrane Library, and ProQuest databases were searched. The following keywords and MeSH headings were used: "sepsis," septicemia," "septic shock," "epidemiology," "burns," "thermal injury," "trauma," "wounds and injuries," "critical care," "intensive care," "outcomes," and "mortality." Included studies were clinical studies of adult burn, trauma, and critically ill patients that reported survival data for sepsis. Thirty-eight articles were reviewed (9 burn, 11 trauma, 18 general critical care). The age of burn (<45 years) and trauma (34-49 years) groups was lower than the general critical care (57-64 years) population. Sepsis prevalence varied with trauma-injured patients experiencing fewer episodes (2.4%-16.9%) contrasted with burn patients (8%-42.5%) and critical care patients (19%-38%). Survival differed with trauma patients experiencing a lower rate of mortality associated with sepsis (7%-36.9%) compared with the burn (28%-65%) and critical care (21%-53%) groups. This study is the first to compare sepsis outcomes in three distinct patient populations: burn, trauma, and general critical care. Trauma patients tend to have relatively low sepsis-associated mortality; burn patients and the older critical care population have higher prevalence of sepsis with worse outcomes. Great variability of criteria to identify septic patients among studies compromises population comparisons.

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