Objective: Today, sepsis syndrome is the leading cause of death in adult, non-coronary intensive care units (ICUs) and is of great clinical importance. The purpose of this review was to evaluate recent prospective studies concerning the short- and long-term prognosis of patients suffering from systemic inflammatory-response syndrome (SIRS), sepsis, severe sepsis and septic shock. It has been shown in multicentre prospective surveys that 1% and 0.3% of all patients admitted to hospitals suffer, respectively, from bacteraemia alone and bacteraemia with severe sepsis. This rate increases, of course, when only admissions to the ICUs are considered: the above-mentioned rates increase then by a factor of 8 and 30, respectively. Thus, approximately 10% of patients in the ICU suffer from sepsis, 6% from severe sepsis and 2-3% from septic shock. SIRS occurs more frequently and its occurrence ranges from 40% to 70% of all patients admitted to ICUs. Thereby, 40-70% suffering from SIRS progress to a more severe septic-disease state. The overall prognosis is still poor, despite the recent advances in ICU treatment. The mortality rate of SIRS ranges from 6% to 7% and in septic shock amounts to over 50%. In particular, abdominal sepsis exhibits the highest mortality rate with 72%. The long-term prognosis is equally poor; only approximately 30% survived the first year after hospital admission.
Conclusion: The prognosis of sepsis and septic shock remains poor, despite the advances in ICU treatment. Although prognostic factors have been identified for some patients, groups have not yet been able to identify the immediate or long-term prognosis for the majority of these septic patients.