The Epidemiology of Sepsis in Chinese ICUs: A National Cross-Sectional Survey

Crit Care Med. 2020 Mar;48(3):e209-e218. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0000000000004155.


Objectives: We performed a national cross-sectional survey to determine the epidemiologic characteristics of patients with sepsis in ICU in China.

Design: A cross-section survey study.

Setting: Forty-four hospitals in mainland China from December 1, 2015, to January 31, 2016.

Patients: All septic patients diagnosed according sepsis-1 criteria admitted to participating ICU.

Interventions: None.

Measurements and main results: We recorded demographic, physiologic, and microbiological data with follow-up for 90 days or death, if sooner. The frequency of sepsis and 90-day mortality rate were computed, and the relationship with gross domestic product determined. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to determine risk factors for 90-day mortality in patients with sepsis. Two-thousand three-hundred twenty-two patients with sepsis were included in the analysis, of whom 786 patients (33.9%) had hospital-acquired sepsis. The most common infection site was the lung (68.2%), followed by abdomen (26.6%) and bloodstream (7.8%). The frequency of sepsis in the ICU was 20.6 cases per 100 ICU admissions (95% CI, 15.8-25.4) with a 90-day mortality of 35.5%. The proportion of sepsis, severe sepsis, and septic shock were 3.10%, 43.6%, and 53.3% with a 90-day mortality of 2.78%, 17.69%, and 51.94%, respectively. Older age, low body weight, higher Sequential Organ Failure Assessment score, the number of systemic inflammatory response syndrome criteria, comorbid with heart failure, hematologic cancer, immunosuppression, higher level of lactate, infection site (pneumonia and bloodstream) were associated with 90-day mortality.

Conclusions: Sepsis affects a fifth of patients admitted to ICUs in mainland China with a 90-day mortality rate of 35.5%. Our findings indicate that a large burden of sepsis, and we need to focus on sepsis as a quality improvement target in China given the high mortality. In addition, further studies are needed to delineate the epidemiology of sepsis outside the ICU.

Trial registration: NCT02448472.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Weight
  • China / epidemiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / statistics & numerical data*
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organ Dysfunction Scores
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sepsis / epidemiology*
  • Sepsis / microbiology
  • Sepsis / mortality
  • Sepsis / physiopathology*
  • Shock, Septic / epidemiology
  • Shock, Septic / physiopathology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / physiopathology

Associated data