Recent Advances in Bedside Device-Based Early Detection of Sepsis

J Intensive Care Med. 2022 Jul;37(7):849-856. doi: 10.1177/08850666211044124. Epub 2021 Dec 30.


Early detection of sepsis is challenging to achieve with current diagnostic methods, leading to expenditures of $27 billion annually in the United States with significant associated mortality. Various scoring systems have been proposed such as the sequential organ failure assessment (SOFA) and systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) criteria for identification of sepsis, but their sensitivities range from 60% to 70% when used in the emergency department triage. Other methods for the recognition of sepsis may rely on laboratory work, in addition to vitals monitoring, and are often outpaced by the development of sepsis. Automated alerts have not shown any reduction in mortality thus far. New technology may fill a critical gap in the early detection of sepsis. The ideal bedside screening device for would demonstrate rapid time to result, high portability, and high sensitivity to not miss cases, but also reasonable specificity to prevent provider fatigue from excessive false alerts. Non-invasive end-organ perfusion devices analyzing lactate and capillary refill time (CRT) tend to perform well in speed and portability, but may be less sensitive. Biomarker devices demonstrate a wider array of performance metrics. Those analyzing a single biomarker tend to be more sensitive but are less specific to the diagnosis of sepsis than technologies that assess multiple biomarkers, which in turn have lower sensitivity. Additionally, biomarker devices are generally invasive requiring blood samples, which may or may not be feasible in all patients especially when serial draws are needed. Sepsis is a complex disease process and most likely will require a combination of improved technology in addition to vital signs and high-risk patient history for better recognition. This review examines recent advances in the device-based early detection of sepsis between 2017 and 2020 with emphasis on bedside diagnostics, divided into markers of perfusion and biomarkers commonly implicated in sepsis.

Keywords: bedside; detection; devices; diagnostics; screening; sepsis; technology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid
  • Sepsis*
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome
  • Triage


  • Biomarkers
  • Lactic Acid