SIRS, MODS, and the Brave New World of ICU Acronyms: Have They Helped Us?

  • John C. Marshall


Physicians like acronyms.Whether they denote a biologic entity such as TNF, a physiologic measurement such as CVP, a classification system such as APACHE, a syndrome such as AIDS, a disease such as TB, a therapy such as a GABG or EGMO, or even an investigative undertaking such as GUSTO, there is something both familiar and authoritative about distilling a complex biomedical concept into a short, manageable, and pronounceable group of initials. Acronyms both clarify and obfuscate, and serve to transform an amorphous clinical problem into one or more recognizable conditions for which the possibilities and limitations are recognized. The patient with acute respiratory failure and a diffuse infiltrate on the chest radiograph is an example: Measure the PCWP—if it is elevated it is CHF, otherwise it is ARDS. The clinical shorthand suggests a rapid diagnostic approach and a simple binary approach to management.


Organ Dysfunction Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome Critical Illness Multiple Organ Failure Multiple Organ Dysfunction Syndrome 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2000

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  • John C. Marshall

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