As the initial problems of trauma have been resolved, patients may survive the immediate period following critical injury only to succumb later to the effects of sepsis. We previously noted a correlation between multiple organ failure and intravascular clotting. The present study evaluated the incidence of infection complications following proven disseminated intravascular coagulation.
Detailed analysis of multiple clotting factor changes following critical surgical illness (Factors, I, II, V, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, and platelets, fibrin degradation products, and plasminogen) were carried out prospectively in 48 patients. Twenty-one of the 48 were classified as having a severe degree of intravascular coagulation on the basis of hematologic evidence. Only one survived without evidence of infection; 16 showed changes consistent with a moderate degree of intravascular coagulation, and ten subsequently developed evidence of infection. Of the 11 patients with minimal evidence of intravascular coagulation, infection developed in only one.