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Sepsis, the Sepsis Syndrome, Multi-Organ Failure: A Plea for Comparable Definitions

Roger C. Bone, MD
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Requests for Reprints: Roger C. Bone, MD, Department of Internal Medicine, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, 1653 W. Congress Parkway, Chicago, IL 60612.

Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center
Chicago, IL 60612

Ann Intern Med. 1991;114(4):332-333. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-114-4-332
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Precision in language is no trivial matter. Considerable confusion arises when terms are defined differently by different clinical subspecialties, or even within a given field. Such is the predicament that has arisen regarding the related, but overlapping terms used for the various degrees of severe clinical infection. Everyone has a vague notion of what the terms bacteremia, septicemia, sepsis, the sepsis syndrome, and septic shock mean. Too often, however, these words are used interchangeablyin speech and in the professional literature, which can lead to considerable bewilderment. Because clinical protocols are based on specific criteria understood by the developers of a


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