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The European Society of Intensive Care Medicine’s priorities for intensive care medicine in Europe and beyond are introduced here, focusing on sepsis research, other current research and practice in the field, as well as equality and diversity

Promoting and supporting the advancement of knowledge in intensive care medicine, sums up the mission of the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM). Going into further detail, the promotion of the highest standards of multidisciplinary care of critically ill patients and their families is a key concern of ESICM. They believe that this can be achieved through research, education and professional development.

ESICM also encourage collaborative research among its members and as such, they promote European intensive care research by means of ESICM Trials Group, which in total have enrolled a staggering 41,441 patients. All studies, in this vein, whether observational or interventional, are international and multicentric. The Trial Group is an example of contributing to the advancement of knowledge of research in the field of intensive care. (1)

Sepsis research

One area that ESICM is a staunch supporter of is the WHO’s 2017 resolution on improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of sepsis and initiatives such as the SAVE LIVES Campaign that sets out to prevent healthcare-associated infections, which are certainly a risk factor for the development of sepsis. (2)

On the subject of sepsis, we know estimates say that it affects no less than 30 million patients annually, on a global basis. In the view of ESICM, while it often occurs prior to a patient’s access to the health facility, it can also result from care provided in health facilities, particularly, healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), as well as complicated HAIs themselves. (3)

ESICM has supported a number of long-term studies in recent years, including GenOSept: Genetics of Sepsis in Europe. This research hypothesised that the fatal outcome following treatment for severe sepsis is, to some extent, genetically determined. This hypothesis is based on preliminary data developed by a number of groups from studies of small and relatively homogeneous populations. GenOSept aims to test this hypothesis through the following three phases:

  • A genetic epidemiologic study of genetic predisposition to sepsis-related mortality and morbidity in European intensive care units;
  • This unique European dataset on the effect of genetic variation on sepsis outcomes will assist with explaining variation in response to new treatments for sepsis and will deliver data on gender-related mortality and morbidity;
  • Harmonisation of standards for European high throughput genotyping and quality control by coordinating three major European genotyping centres (Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics – Oxford, Cochin Institute – Paris, Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen – Munich) is the third phase. (4)

Intensive care medicine: research and practice

Earlier in 2018, Madrid in Spain hosted the LIVES Forum 2018, a three-day conference where allied healthcare professionals, physicians and professionals from across Europe congregated to share and discuss the current research and practice on a key area of intensive care medicine, acute respiratory failure monitoring (ARF). In this session, international experts covered a number of interesting perspectives on ARF monitoring which included practical workshops and theoretical presentations.

This is a worthy preamble to the topics that will be discussed at the National Congress of SEMICYUC during June 2019 in Granada, which will include the management of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Sessions will look at the use of ultrasound in the management of the critical patient, plus the indication of extracorporeal oxygenation support techniques when it comes to acute respiratory failure.

Ricard Ferrer, Vice President of SEMICYUC and Spanish representative of ESICM shares his thoughts on these topics in his own words. “Acute respiratory failure and ventilatory support is one of the main reasons for admission to intensive care units. This meeting of the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM) in Madrid addresses how to optimise the treatment of these patients with all the new technologies available. These new technologies allow, in most cases, to adapt the treatment non-invasively at the bedside.”

According to the ESICM, a concern of practitioners of intensive medicine in Europe is how to ensure the continuous training and skills of professionals during a time when economic funding is under some pressure. They believe that online and face-to-face training both focus on the most interactive and practical elements, which are viewed as the most probable successful strategy for ICU professionals and intensivists over the coming years. (5)

Equality and diversity in intensive care medicine

An important aspect underpinning ESICM’s work is promoting equality with their with Diversity Task Force. They believe that on a global scale, intensive care medicine is a multidisciplinary speciality led by both women and men from a number of races and ethnicities. Such specialists come from differing cultural backgrounds and beliefs, which are practised in a wide variety of healthcare settings, ranging from those with limited resources to others with more abundant centres.

Certainly, ESICM is an international and open society of diverse individuals from the field of critical care and emergency medicine, with no less than 9,000 members from 115 countries. In March 2018, the ESICM announced the launch of a dedicated task force and working groups who are drafting a policy paper and code of conduct for its members and the wider public, something that is in accordance with its commitment to the promotion of diversity and equality within the society.

At the time, the then ESICM President, Massimo Antonelli commented that diversity in general and philosophically is something that brings richness to humanity. The last word goes to him, which helps us to end the article on a positive note.

“We are diverse, and this diversity is a plus. At times within the Society and in social life, diversity is not perceived in the proper way – we need to build up a society where anybody is respected, no matter what is the gender, the race, the culture, the background or whatever.” Björn Weiss, Diversity Task Force Chair adds: “It is very important that you value different views and opinions of people.” (6)










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