Podcast #219: History of Sepsis - The Emergency Medical Minute


Author: Chris Holmes, M.D.

Educational Pearls

  • “Sepo’ is a term from Homer (author of The Iliad and The Odyssey), and means “I rot”.
  • Hippocrates in 400 BC identified sepsis as a “dangerous decay within the body”.
  • Galen in 200 AD believed pus was “laudable”.
  • The Greeks and Romans used the term “myasma” to describe the smell of swamp and rotting flesh.
  • Dr. Emmanuel Rivers in Detroit did one of the the first big studies about sepsis and was an advocate for goal-directed therapy.
  • Now, Vitamin C cocktails are in use, but new sepsis treatments should be investigated carefully before implementation.

References: Funk, Duane J. et al. Sepsis and Septic Shock: A History. Critical Care Clinics , Volume 25 , Issue 1 , 83 – 101

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