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Faster care for blood infection

The Wall Street Journal, September 13, 2011

The National Institutes of Health is funding a five-year study that aims to establish the first set of standard procedures to diagnose and treat sepsis in the emergency room. Lead researcher Derek Angus, chair of the department of critical care at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, says the key to the project is determining whether there are "golden hours" during which specific procedures can halt the progress to severe sepsis. In June, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that hospitalizations for sepsis more than doubled between 2000 and 2008 to over one million. Treatment costs increased an average of 12% annually to $14.6 billion. The CDC cites an aging population with more chronic illnesses, greater use of drugs that suppress the immune system and invasive procedures that can carry microbes into the body, and bugs that are increasingly resistant to antibiotics. Some of the rise may be due to increased recognition of the disease.