INTRODUCTION AND PURPOSE OF THE STUDY: With this study we aimed to describe a "true world" picture of severe paediatric 'community-acquired' septic shock and establish the feasibility of a future prospective trial on early goal-directed therapy in children. During a 6-month to 1-year retrospective screening period in 16 emergency departments (ED) in 12 different countries, all children with severe sepsis and signs of decreased perfusion were included.
Results: A 270,461 paediatric ED consultations were screened, and 176 cases were identified. Significant comorbidity was present in 35.8 % of these cases. Intensive care admission was deemed necessary in 65.7 %, mechanical ventilation in 25.9 % and vasoactive medications in 42.9 %. The median amount of fluid given in the first 6 h was 30 ml/kg. The overall mortality in this sample was 4.5 %. Only 1.2 % of the survivors showed a substantial decrease in Paediatric Overall Performance Category (POPC). 'Severe' outcome (death or a decrease ≥2 in POPC) was significantly related (p < 0.01) to: any desaturation below 90 %, the amount of fluid given in the first 6 h, the need for and length of mechanical ventilation or vasoactive support, the use of dobutamine and a higher lactate or lower base excess but not to any variables of predisposition, infection or host response (as in the PIRO (Predisposition, Infection, Response, Organ dysfunction) concept).
Conclusion: The outcome in our sample was very good. Many children received treatment early in their disease course, so avoiding subsequent intensive care. While certain variables predispose children to become septic and shocked, in our sample, only measures of organ dysfunction and concomitant treatment proved to be significantly related with outcome. We argue why future studies should rather be large multinational prospective observational trials and not necessarily randomised controlled trials.