Sepsis: Leading cause of death in non-coronary intensive care units


Sepsis is a complex clinical syndrome that may be defined as the body’s systemic inflammatory reaction to infection. The body cannot fight the infection alone and to defend itself requires the administration of the most appropriate treatment.

 

The challenge

 
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  • Sepsis is the leading cause of death in non-coronary intensive care units: mortality from severe sepsis may reach 32%, and as high as 54% in the case of septic shock. In developed countries, it is estimated that each day approximately 3,000 people die of severe sepsis.
     
  • 750,000 people are affected by severe sepsis (sepsis made more serious by organ dysfunction) in the United States, which represents a total cost of 16.7 billion dollars for the healthcare system.
     
  • The number of patients with sepsis is rising steadily worldwide due to the aging of the population, invasive diagnostic techniques and increasing bacterial resistance to antibiotics. 
     

Our research

Sepsis requires immediate treatment. In this race against the clock, our tests enable the identification of the agent causing the infection and determine its antibiotic resistance profile.
 
  • Potential technological advances to revolutionize diagnostics: Recently introduced innovative molecular biology tools, including a new immunological and molecular biomarker and a new blood culture approach, have led to improved sepsis diagnostics. In exclusive collaboration with the molecular diagnostics company Cepheid, our R&D teams are currently working on a novel system that will bring two important developments to sepsis diagnostics:

    • Tests that are easier to use and can be performed at the patient’s point of care, without being sent to large, centralized laboratories. 
       
    • Reduced time for the analysis of blood samples, from several days to just 2 hours.
       

Sepsis Diagnostics

  • Procalcitonin (PCT): when it was introduced, this test, which is one of the parameters in our VIDAS system, marked a milestone in the management of sepsis. The progression of severe bacterial infection is closely related to how quickly the appropriate treatment can be administered; measuring PCT levels therefore represents an extremely valuable tool in intensive care units, where sepsis is a major public health concern. In just 20 minutes, the test to detect Procalcitonin makes it possible to obtain early indications so the patient can be given adequate treatment. It thus contributes to improved patient care and increases the patient’s chance of survival. The same technology is also used for monitoring antibiotic therapy and the patient’s response to treatment.

     
  • Bacterial identification and antibiotic susceptibility testing: our automated systems VITEK 2 and VITEK 2 Compact enable the identification of disease-causing bacteria and antibiotic susceptibility testing in order to target the best possible treatment. When it comes to antibiotic susceptibility testing of bacteria that are rare or difficult to grow in culture, our Etest® makes it possible to determine Minimal Inhibitory Concentration (MIC) values for antibiotic, antifungal and anti-mycobacterial agents.

     
  • Automated blood culture: BacT/ALERT 3D enables the rapid growth and detection of the bacteria or yeast responsible for infection. Depending on test results, physicians treating the patient with broad-spectrum antibiotics may adjust the treatment to reduce the risk of toxicity and antibiotic resistance.