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Adult-population incidence of severe sepsis in Australian and New Zealand intensive care units

Simon Finfer| Rinaldo Bellomo| Jeffrey Lipman| Craig French| Geoffrey Dobb| John Myburgh
Volume 30, Issue 4 / April , 2004

Pages 589 - 596



To determine the population incidence and outcome of severe sepsis occurring in adult patients treated in Australian and New Zealand intensive care units (ICUs), and compare with recent retrospective estimates from the USA and UK.


Inception cohort study.


Twenty-three closed multi-disciplinary ICUs of 21 hospitals (16 tertiary and 5 university affiliated) in Australia and New Zealand.


A total of 5878 consecutive ICU admission episodes.

Measurements and results

Main outcome measures were population-based incidence of severe sepsis, mortality at ICU discharge, mortality at 28 days after onset of severe sepsis, and mortality at hospital discharge. A total of 691 patients, 11.8 (95% confidence intervals 10.9–12.6) per 100 ICU admissions, were diagnosed with 752 episodes of severe sepsis. Site of infection was pulmonary in 50.3% of episodes and abdominal in 19.3% of episodes. The calculated incidence of severe sepsis in adults treated in Australian and New Zealand ICUs is 0.77 (0.76–0.79) per 1000 of population. 26.5% of patients with severe sepsis died in ICU, 32.4% died within 28 days of the diagnosis of severe sepsis and 37.5% died in hospital.


In this prospective study, 11.8 patients per 100 ICU admissions were diagnosed with severe sepsis and the calculated annual incidence of severe sepsis in adult patients treated in Australian and New Zealand ICUs is 0.77 per 1000 of population. This figure for the population incidence falls in the lower range of recent estimates from retrospective studies in the U.S. and the U.K.



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