Consensus conference definitions for sepsis, septic shock, acute lung injury, and acute respiratory distress syndrome: time for a reevaluation

Crit Care Med. 2000 Jan;28(1):232-5. doi: 10.1097/00003246-200001000-00039.


Definitions for sepsis, septic shock, acute lung injury (ALI), and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) were developed by consensus conferences with the goal of achieving standardization of terminology and improved homogeneity of patient populations in clinical studies. Although such definitions have been useful in epidemiologic investigations, the criteria specified by the consensus conferences are broad and insufficiently specific to address the problem of heterogeneous mechanisms leading to clinical syndromes. An important challenge is to progress from clinical syndromes, as presently defined, to more specific entities that are delineated by alterations in specific immunologic or biochemical pathways. Such mechanistic definitions will provide more homogeneous groups of patients who can be identified at early stages of their clinical course. This approach encourages focused investigation of pathways leading to organ system dysfunction and death and, also, provides an efficient framework for the development of new therapies useful in critically ill patients.

Publication types

  • Consensus Development Conference
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Critical Care / classification*
  • Critical Care / standards*
  • Humans
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / therapy*
  • Sepsis / physiopathology
  • Sepsis / therapy*
  • Shock, Septic / physiopathology
  • Shock, Septic / therapy*