Are gram-positive or gram-negative bacteria more likely to cause sepsis/septic shock?

Updated: Oct 07, 2020
  • Author: Andre Kalil, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Michael R Pinsky, MD, CM, Dr(HC), FCCP, FAPS, MCCM  more...
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Answer

Before the introduction of antibiotics, gram-positive bacteria were the principal organisms that caused sepsis. Subsequently, gram-negative bacteria became the key pathogens causing sepsis and septic shock. Currently, however, the rates of sepsis and septic shock due to gram-positive organisms are rising again because of the more frequent use of invasive procedures and lines in critically ill patients. As a result, gram-positive and gram-negative microorganisms are now about equally likely to be causative pathogens in septic shock. [36, 37, 38, 39]


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