The Surviving Sepsis Campaign – The Past, the Present and an Exciting Future

Posted on by CDC's Safe Healthcare Blog
Craig Coopersmith MD
Craig Coopersmith MD

Guest Author: Craig Coopersmith MD, Professor of Surgery at Emory University School of Medicine

Sepsis is a devastating tragedy for a patient and family, but also an urgent public health problem. A person with sepsis is more likely to die from sepsis than a person who suffers a heart attack, stroke, or other major trauma. In 2002, the Surviving Sepsis Campaign was formed as a partnership between the Society of Critical Care Medicine and the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine to reduce sepsis death by 25% in 5 years. The Campaign published practice guidelines in 2004, 2008 and 2012 offering care “bundles,” brief, evidence based and expert endorsed recommendations on sepsis management that are easy to implement in any healthcare system.

The Campaign is a resounding success. The guidelines have been endorsed and supported by 30 organizations worldwide, and were the inspiration for the first ever federal mandate on sepsis care. A vast literature suggests that the Campaign saves lives. As hospitals continue to participate in the Campaign, the death rates continue to fall. However, despite these early successes, death from sepsis remains unacceptably high.

The Campaign is leading the way in the efforts to further improve outcomes. Applying rigorous standards and cutting edge evidence, 60 global experts are working tirelessly to produce the 4th edition of the Campaign Guidelines scheduled to publish in early 2017. Multiple new studies have informed changes to prior recommendations making the new guidelines a critical resource for all clinicians managing patients with sepsis. A new separate guideline solely for children with sepsis is also on the horizon.

Although the new guidelines will play a critical role in decreasing sepsis mortality, there is still much uncertainty around treatment and management. The next phase in our efforts to reduce the toll of sepsis includes the formation of a research committee that will meet in January 2017. The committee will focus on prioritizing sepsis research and plan critical steps toward improving sepsis care. Moving forward, the Surviving Sepsis Campaign will continue updating evidence-based clincial guidelines and spotlighting research priorities when inadequate information exists to shape clinical recommendations. It is an exciting time to be involved in the Surviving Sepsis Campaign whose sole mission is contained in its name – for patients to survive sepsis!


Dr. Coopersmith is the immediate past-president of the Society of Critical Care Medicine. He is a member of the Surviving Sepsis steering committee and is co-chair of the newly formed Surviving Sepsis research committee. Dr. Coopersmith is a Professor of Surgery at Emory University School of Medicine, where he serves as Vice Chair for Research for the Department of Surgery as well as the director of the surgical/transplant intensive care unit.

Posted on by CDC's Safe Healthcare Blog

One comment on “The Surviving Sepsis Campaign – The Past, the Present and an Exciting Future”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    Please include in the next bundle measuring sepsis patients Vitamin C levels and correction of deficiencies. Numerous papers in Pub Med verify the soundness of such an approach.

    Time for a break thru, not a band aid.

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Page last reviewed: September 6, 2016
Page last updated: September 6, 2016