Pediatric sepsis affects millions of children worldwide every year, and carries a high risk of severe illness and even death. Sepsis is the most common cause of death in hospitalized children in the country, including in Rhode Island. While sepsis occurs most commonly in patients with chronic conditions or the extremes of life, it also occurs in healthy children. In sepsis the body has a dysregulated response to common infections. Early sepsis in children often overlaps routine illness and is currently difficult to predict. While there are recognizable signs and symptoms of sepsis, not enough is currently known about its underlying causes. Thus, pediatric sepsis research is a critical forefront in health care efforts. Current global research efforts include, but are not limited to:


 • Sepsis prevention

 • Development of s valid sepsis screening and assessment tools

 • Early identification and warning signs of sepsis for providers and families

 • Early and targeted goal-oriented intervention (the crucial first hour)

 • Identifying children with severe sepsis and septic shock

 • Finding and utilizing biomarkers to tell us which patients have early signs of severe bacterial infections that

   require antibiotics

 • New treatments for bacterial infections including development of new classes and combinations of antibiotics

   and immune therapies for resistant organisms

 • Educating our friends and family about antibiotic resistance, and what antibiotics can and cannot treat

 • Investigation into genetic and immune markers of sepsis risk and different sepsis syndromes

 • Improving long-term outcomes for survivors of sepsis


Hasbro Children’s Hospital is an active participant in multiple national multi-center sepsis trials through partners such as the PALISI Network (Pediatric Acute Lung Injury and Sepsis Investigators). Trials currently underway include the Sepsis-Induced Red Cell Dysfunction (SIRD) trial and others. Hasbro Children’s Hospital is part of a national effort of 60 Children’s hospitals administered by the Children’s Hospital Association to improve the early recognition and treatment of pediatric sepsis and to define its physiologic markers. For the past year, Hasbro Children’s hospital has been rolling out important electronic early warning and sepsis treatment protocols, while we continue to provide the highest standard of care to our patients.


Sarah Spencer Welsh, MD, FAAP

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Clinician Educator

Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine

Hasbro Children’s Hospital/Rhode Island Hospital

The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University


Susan J. Duffy, MD, MPH

Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine & Pediatrics

Site Coordinator of the Children Hospital Association Improving Sepsis Outcomes

Director of Special Pediatric Projects in the Department of Emergency Medicine

Hasbro Children’s Hospital/Rhode Island Hospital

The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University