Updates on pediatric sepsis

Andrea T. Cruz*, Roni D. Lane, Fran Balamuth, Paul L. Aronson, David W. Ashby, Mark I. Neuman, Ellie S. Souganidis, Elizabeth R. Alpern, Luregn J. Schlapbach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Sepsis, defined as an infection with dysregulated host response leading to life-threatening organ dysfunction, continues to carry a high potential for morbidity and mortality in children. The recognition of sepsis in children in the emergency department (ED) can be challenging, related to the high prevalence of common febrile infections, poor specificity of discriminating features, and the capacity of children to compensate until advanced stages of shock. Sepsis outcomes are strongly dependent on the timeliness of recognition and treatment, which has led to the successful implementation of quality improvement programs, increasing the reliability of sepsis treatment in many US institutions. We review clinical, laboratory, and technical modalities that can be incorporated into ED practice to facilitate the recognition, treatment, and reassessment of children with suspected sepsis. The 2020 updated pediatric sepsis guidelines are reviewed and framed in the context of ED interventions, including guidelines for antibiotic administration, fluid resuscitation, and the use of vasoactive agents. Despite a large body of literature on pediatric sepsis epidemiology in recent years, the evidence base for treatment and management components remains limited, implying an urgent need for large trials in this field. In conclusion, although the burden and impact of pediatric sepsis remains substantial, progress in our understanding of the disease and its management have led to revised guidelines and the available data emphasizes the importance of local quality improvement programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)981-993
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the American College of Emergency Physicians Open
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • antibiotic management
  • fluid resuscitation
  • pediatric
  • sepsis
  • sepsis risk factors
  • septic shock
  • severe sepsis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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