Epidemiology of sepsis and infection in ICU patients from an international multicentre cohort study

Intensive Care Med. 2002 Feb;28(2):108-21. doi: 10.1007/s00134-001-1143-z. Epub 2001 Dec 4.


Objectives: To examine the incidence of infections and to describe them and their outcome in intensive care unit (ICU) patients.

Design and setting: International prospective cohort study in which all patients admitted to the 28 participating units in eight countries between May 1997 and May 1998 were followed until hospital discharge.

Patients: A total of 14,364 patients were admitted to the ICUs, 6011 of whom stayed less than 24 h and 8353 more than 24 h.

Results: Overall 3034 infectious episodes were recorded at ICU admission (crude incidence: 21.1%). In ICU patients hospitalised longer than 24 h there were 1581 infectious episodes (crude incidence: 18.9%) including 713 (45%) in patients already infected at ICU admission. These rates varied between ICUs. Respiratory, digestive, urinary tracts, and primary bloodstream infections represented about 80% of all sites. Hospital-acquired and ICU-acquired infections were documented more frequently microbiologically than community-acquired infections (71% and 86%, respectively vs. 55%). About 28% of infections were associated with sepsis, 24% with severe sepsis and 30% with septic shock, and 18% were not classified. Crude hospital mortality rates ranged from 16.9% in non-infected patients to 53.6% in patients with hospital-acquired infections at the time of ICU admission and acquiring infection during the ICU stay.

Conclusions: The crude incidence of ICU infections remains high, although the rate varies between ICUs and patient subsets, illustrating the added burden of nosocomial infections in the use of ICU resources.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Community-Acquired Infections / classification
  • Community-Acquired Infections / epidemiology*
  • Community-Acquired Infections / microbiology
  • Cross Infection / classification
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology*
  • Cross Infection / microbiology
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Intensive Care Units / statistics & numerical data*
  • Israel / epidemiology
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality
  • Sepsis / epidemiology*