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Emergency management of severe sepsis and septic shock

Puskarich, Michael A.

Current Opinion in Critical Care: August 2012 - Volume 18 - Issue 4 - p 295–300
doi: 10.1097/MCC.0b013e328354dc16
EMERGENCIES: Edited by Alan E. Jones

Purpose of review Numerous implementation studies have demonstrated the benefit of bundled care in the initial treatment of patients with severe sepsis and septic shock, but the relative value of each component of these bundles remains uncertain. Recent studies have attempted to further define the optimal supportive and adjunctive treatments for these patients.

Recent findings The choice of optimal intravenous resuscitation fluid for the emergency treatment of severe sepsis remains uncertain. Albumin appears safe, although safety concerns have arisen regarding the use of hydroxyethyl starch. Norepinephrine and vasopressin appear superior to dopamine as vasopressors of choice. Several studies have successfully incorporated lactate clearance into resuscitation strategies, albeit with differing protocols. Although corticosteroids may hasten improvement, there does not appear to be a mortality benefit in heterogeneous patients with sepsis, leaving their role uncertain.

Summary Recent negative studies have questioned the role of previously promising adjunctive treatments. However, recent clinical trials and meta-analytic data continue to refine the relative importance of various components of sepsis bundles.

Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi, USA

Correspondence to Michael A. Puskarich, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Mississippi Medical Center, 2500 North State Street, Jackson, MS 39216, USA. E-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.