Sepsis is a life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by a dysregulated host response to infection. It is a common condition with a major impact on individuals, families and on healthcare resources and expenditure.
Sepsis has been referred to as a ‘silent killer’ because it can be extremely difficult to identify in the early stages for both professionals and the public alike, with symptoms suggestive of less serious illnesses. An estimated 18,000 Australian adults are treated in intensive care units for sepsis annually, of which almost 5,000 will die; resulting in more than twice the number of deaths caused by road traffic accidents. Of those who survive, half will be left with a permanent disability or impaired function.
In paediatric patients, sepsis represents the leading cause of death and disability in children, with mortality rates higher than road toll deaths and leukaemia. One-third of children who survive sepsis will suffer long-term disability such as loss of limb/s and neurocognitive impairment.