Pharmacist talking to the patient
September 13, 2022

World Sepsis Day

Addressing antimicrobial resistance to stop sepsis

Every 2.8 seconds, someone, somewhere in the world dies from sepsis (1, 2). Sepsis occurs when a run-of-the-mill infectious disease, like seasonal flu or pneumonia, spirals out of control. Antimicrobials are crucial for treating sepsis (3), but the growing crisis of antimicrobial resistance threatens the efficacy of antimicrobial therapy. 

Rapidly and accurately diagnosing patients with infectious diseases can support evidence-based antimicrobial use and stop common infections from progressing to sepsis. 

Webinar presenter, Eric Wenzler
Getting antimicrobial stewardship right 

Speaker: Eric Wenzler, PharmD, BCPS, BCIDP, AAHIVP Department of Pharmacy Practice, University of Illinois, Chicago College of Pharmacy, USA Join Dr. Eric Wenzler as he explains how rapid diagnostic tests can enable quick and definitive pathogen identification to support antimicrobial stewardship efforts and optimize clinical and economic outcomes.

Sepsis occurs when the body’s own immune response to an infection goes into overdrive. Untreated, it can lead to shock, multi-organ failure and death. While everyone is susceptible to sepsis, people with weakened immune systems – including adults over 60 or young children – are most at risk. 

Sepsis affects nearly 50 million people every year, and survivors often face long-term consequences, including loss of limbs, memory problems and post-traumatic stress disorder (1, 2). 

Treatment is a balancing act 

In many cases, antimicrobials are essential for treating sepsis. In fact, a delay in antimicrobial therapy is linked to increased mortality (3). Antimicrobial resistance presents a major threat to sepsis treatment and can even lead to sepsis itself if the initial antimicrobial treatment of an infection is ineffective. 

At the same time, care must be taken when prescribing antimicrobials, even for individuals with sepsis, to reduce the likelihood of resistance developing. Evidence-based diagnostics and a strong antimicrobial stewardship program can help maximize patient outcomes while minimizing the risk of antimicrobial resistance (3). 

Female doctor writing on clipboard
QIAstat-Dx, QIAsphere, lab, instrument, box, cartridge

Preventing the development of antimicrobial resistance can help prevent sepsis from claiming lives. To reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance, we need to work together to improve antimicrobial usage. Rapid diagnostic tests, including multiplex PCR, enable quick and definitive pathogen identification, and are recommended in the U.S. National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (5). 

Multiplex PCR panel testing has been shown to support antimicrobial stewardship efforts by (6–9):

  • Reducing inappropriate antimicrobial use and shortening antimicrobial duration 
  • Reducing unnecessary antimicrobial use 
  • Positively impacting the escalation, de-escalation or termination of antimicrobial therapy
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  1. Global Sepsis Alliance. Sepsis.
  2. World Sepsis Day. WSD 2022.
  3. Fitzpatrick F, Tarrant C, Hamilton V, et alSepsis and antimicrobial stewardship: two sides of the same coinBMJ Quality & Safety 2019;28:758-761.
  4. Sepsis Trust. Sepsis and Antimicrobial Resistance.
  5. U.S. National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (National Action Plan)
  6. McCulloh, R.J. Andrea, S., Reinert, S. and Chapin, K. (2014) Potential Utility of Multiplex Amplification Respiratory Viral Panel Testing in the Management of Acute Respiratory Infection in Children: A Retrospective Analysis. J Pediatric Infect Dis Soc, 3, 146-53
  7. Lowe, C.F., et al. (2017) Antimicrobial stewardship for hospitalized patients with viral respiratory tract infections. Am J Infect Control, 45, 872-875
  8. Rappo, U. (2016) Impact of early detection of respiratory viruses by multiplex PCR assay on clinical outcomes in adult patients. J Clin Microbiol, 54, 2096-2103
  9. Blaschke, A.J. (2013) A national study of the impact of rapid influenza testing on clinical care in the emergency department. J Pediatric Infect Dis Soc, 3, 112-118

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