Objective: To determine the incidence and outcome of severe sepsis in the adult Finnish population and to evaluate how treatment guidelines in severe sepsis are applied in clinical practice.
Study design: A prospective study in 24 closed multidisciplinary ICUs in 21 hospitals (4 university and 17 tertiary hospitals) in Finland.
Patients: All 4,500 consecutive ICU admission episodes were screened for severe sepsis during a 4-month period (1 November 2004 - 28 February 2005). The referral population was 3,743,225.
Results: The severe sepsis criteria were fulfilled in 470 patients, who had 472 septic episodes. The incidence of severe sepsis in the ICUs in Finland was 0.38/1000 in the adult population (95% confidence interval 0.34-0.41). The mean ICU length of stay was 8.2+/-8.1 days. ICU, hospital, and 1-year mortality rates were 15.5%, 28.3%, and 40.9%, respectively. Respiratory failure requiring ventilation support was the most common organ failure (86.2%); septic shock was present in 77% and acute renal failure in 20.6% of cases. Activated protein C was given to only 15 of the 55 patients with indication (27%) and low-dose corticosteroids to 150 of 366 (41%) patients with septic shock.
Conclusions: This prospective study found the incidence of ICU-treated severe sepsis in Finland to be 0.38 per 1,000 of the population. The ICU and hospital mortalities were also lower than earlier reported in United States or Australia. Evidence-based sepsis therapies were not used as often as recommended.