The Sepsis Trust estimates that 44,000 people in the UK die every year from sepsis, and this is currently the focus of much attention in hospitals and the media. “Sepsis” is generally used to mean an infection of the blood – where bugs get into the blood and cause high temperature, low pulse, low blood pressure and changes in blood chemicals. However different illnesses can cause similar symptoms, making it difficult to identify. Because of this, there are several different sets of criteria which are used to identify patients presenting to hospital with “sepsis”.
We want to study patients who arrive at hospital meeting different criteria for sepsis. We want to work out what proportion of them had bugs identified that could have caused the sepsis, and how this affects their chance of dying from it. We want to estimate the contribution of poorly managed sepsis (eg late start of antibiotics) to mortality, so we can work out ways to manage patients better in future.