The mortality associated with septic shock, both in percentage of septic shock cases and total number of septic shock cases, has been increasing over the past several decades. This is despite major advances in diagnosis and treatment. The basic cause of traumatic and septic shock has been only partially elucidated.Methods
Data sources include research papers on the subject of traumatic and septic shock from 1875 to the present. These papers numbered over 10 000, few of which are included in the reference list because many are duplicative or negative. Over 1000 articles were reviewed which documented the unsuccessful search for a treatment for septic shock based on the theory that septic shock is due to endotoxin and its secondarily induced host mediators. These references are available from the author.Results and conclusion
The concept of a shock toxin in trauma and sepsis as promulgated during World War I is correct. This toxin is a thrombogenic aminophospholipid which occurs only on the inner layer of all cell membranes and is liberated by cell destruction. It causes disseminated intravascular coagulation which may obstruct the microcirculation of any or all organs, producing multiple organ failure by microclots. These microclots may be lysed by plasminogen activator and circulation to the organs restored.