During a 1-year period (May 1971-May 1972), patients developing the shock syndrome in a large general hospital were referred to a multi-disciplinary shock team. Sepsis, haemorrhage and severe hypoxaemia were the principal precipitating factors. Mortality exceeded 70% in the septic and cardiogenic shock series and was lowest in shock attributable to fluid depletion and drug overdose. Whereas improvement in mortality in the haemorrhagic shock group is likely to result from more rapid and aggressive primary surgery, septic shock, particularly arising from intestinal complications, will require a more complex solution. A shock team seems an important addition to the services of a modern general hospital.
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