Initiated in 2002 at the ESICM’s annual meeting with the Barcelona Declaration, the campaign progressed in phases that have expanded the scope and reach of publication of four editions of evidence-based guidelines, implementation of a performance improvement program, and analysis and publication of data from more than 30,000 patient charts collected from around the world.   

Late 2001- Early 2002 

Separate from SSC activities, a sepsis definitions conference was held in December 2001 to determine whether new data existed to inform updates to criteria established in 1991. Levy MM, Fink MP, Marshall JC, et al; SCCM/SCCP/ATS/SIS. 2001 SCCM/SCCP/ATS/SIS International Sepsis Definitions Conference. Crit Care Med. 2003 Apr;31(4):1250-1256.

SSC was formed by SCCM, ESICM, and the International Sepsis Forum and was launched at the ESICM annual meeting in Barcelona in 2002. A plan to develop guidelines and promote sign-on was presented to the “Barcelona Declaration."

A steering committee was formed with three representatives from each of the three societies.

January 2003
An executive committee meeting was held in Amsterdam to plan the guideline development process.

February 2003
A survey of global public awareness of sepsis was presented at SCCM’s 32nd Critical Care Congress in San Antonio, Texas, USA.

June 2003 

  • Representatives of 11 international societies convened to develop guidelines for the management of severe sepsis and septic shock. 

September 2003 

  • The SSC initiated a partnership with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement to apply their successful quality improvement techniques to the treatment of sepsis. The SSC bundles evolved from this collaboration. 

  • Education initiatives continued at critical care conferences globally. 

March and April 2004 

  • The first edition of the SSC guidelines was published in Critical Care Medicine and Intensive Care Medicine. Dellinger RP, Carlet JM, Masur H, et al; Surviving Sepsis Campaign Management Guidelines Committee. Surviving Sepsis Campaign guidelines for management of severe sepsis and septic shock. Crit Care Med. 2004 Mar;32(3):858-873.

January 2004 

  • The steering committee convened to determine the direction of data collection activities. 

September 2004 

  • SSC was presented to European clinicians at Mediterranean Critical Care School and international representatives gathered to begin development of bundles. 

  • Pocket guidelines and posters were developed and distributed by SCCM in North America and ESICM in Europe. 

  • Development of the data collection tool was initiated. 

November 2004 

  • A supplement to Critical Care Medicine was published, including background papers for all guidelines. 

February 2005 

  • Regional networks were established to promote collaboration in data collection and performance improvement throughout the United States.

December 2005 

  • Implementing the Surviving Sepsis Campaign, the manual for conducting the Campaign in local hospitals, was published. 

January 2006 

  • Approximately 5000 copies of the manual were distributed in North America
  • An SSC session at SCCM’s 35th Critical Care Congress highlighted data collection.
  • A meeting of representatives from 28 countries was held during the SCCM Congress to begin development of the second edition of the SSC guidelines.


  • The second edition of the SSC guidelines was published in Critical Care Medicine and Intensive Care Medicine. Dellinger RP, Levy MM, Carlet JM, et al; International Surviving Sepsis Campaign Guidelines Committee; American Association of Critical-Care Nurses; American College of Chest Physicians; American College of Emergency Physicians; Canadian Critical Care Society; European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases; European Society of Intensive Care Medicine; European Respiratory Society; International Sepsis Forum; Japanese Association for Acute Medicine; Japanese Society of Intensive Care Medicine; Society of Critical Care Medicine; Society of Hospital Medicine; Surgical Infection Society; World Federation of Societies of Intensive and Critical Care Medicine. Surviving Sepsis Campaign: international guidelines for management of severe sepsis and septic shock: 2008. Crit Care Med. 2008 Jan;36(1):296-327.

• Performance improvement efforts continued worldwide with data collection, educational programs, and Listserv collaboration.
• The International Sepsis Forum left the SSC to avoid any misconceptions about industry involvement.


  • Publication of results of 15,000 patient data sets showed the association of bundle compliance with 20% relative risk reduction. 


  • The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation funded development of educational programming, research, and Campaign outreach. 


  • The third edition of the SSC guidelines was published, along with revised bundles. Dellinger RP, Levy MM, Rhodes A, et al; Surviving Sepsis Campaign Guidelines Committee including the Pediatric Subgroup. Surviving Sepsis Campaign: international guidelines for management of severe sepsis and septic shock: 2012; Crit Care Med. 2013 Feb;41(2):580-637.