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Sepsis

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Sepsis is a serious condition that occurs when the body overreacts to an infection. It is also called systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) with infection. An infection is usually caused by bacteria that attack the body. The body's defense system normally fights off infection within the affected body part. With sepsis, the body overreacts and causes symptoms to occur throughout the body. This leads to uncontrolled and widespread inflammation and clotting in small blood vessels. Blood flow to different body parts decreases and may lead to organ failure. Sepsis requires immediate treatment.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

Without treatment, sepsis may cause your organs to fail. You may develop septic shock (sepsis with low blood pressure). These problems can be life-threatening.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

CVP line:

A CVP line is also called a central line. It is an IV catheter or tube. It is put into a large blood vessel near your collarbone, in your neck, or in your groin. The groin is the area where your abdomen meets your upper leg. The CVP line may be used to give medicines or IV fluids. It may also be hooked up to a monitor to take pressure readings. This information helps caregivers check your heart.

Intake and output:

Caregivers will keep track of the amount of liquid you are getting. They also may need to know how much you are urinating. Ask how much liquid you should drink each day. Ask caregivers if they need to measure or collect your urine.

Heart monitor:

This is also called an ECG or EKG. Sticky pads placed on your skin record your heart's electrical activity.

Neurologic exam:

This is also called neuro signs, neuro checks, or neuro status. A neurologic exam can show caregivers how well your brain works after an injury or illness. Caregivers will check how your pupils (black dots in the center of each eye) react to light. They may check your memory and how easily you wake up. Your hand grasp and balance may also be tested.

Pulse oximeter:

A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your finger, ear, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine. Never turn the pulse oximeter or alarm off. An alarm will sound if your oxygen level is low or cannot be read.

Medicines:

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.

  • Heart medicine: This medicine is given to strengthen or regulate your heartbeat. It also may help your heart in other ways. Talk with your caregiver to find out what your heart medicine is and why you are taking it.

  • Steroids: This medicine may be given to decrease inflammation.

  • Vasopressors: These medicines help to increase your blood pressure and increase blood flow.

Tests:

  • Blood gases: This is also called an arterial blood gas, or ABG. Blood is taken from an artery (blood vessel) in your wrist, arm, or groin. Your blood is tested for the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in it. The results can tell caregivers how well your lungs are working.

  • Blood tests: You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.

  • Urine sample: For this test you need to urinate into a small container. You will be given instructions on how to clean your genital area before you urinate. Do not touch the inside of the cup. Follow instructions on where to place the cup of urine when you are done.

  • Chest x-ray: This is a picture of your lungs and heart. Caregivers use it to see how your lungs and heart are doing. Caregivers may use the x-ray to look for signs of infection like pneumonia, or to look for collapsed lungs. Chest x-rays may show tumors, broken ribs, or fluid around the heart and lungs.

  • Other tests: Your caregiver may do imaging tests, such as an ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI, to find the source of your infection.

Treatment:

  • Blood transfusion: You will get whole or parts of blood through an IV during a transfusion. Blood is tested for diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV, to be sure it is safe.

  • Dialysis: Dialysis cleans your blood when your kidneys cannot. Extra water, chemicals, and waste products are removed from your blood by a dialyzer or dialysis machine. The dialysis machine does this by passing your blood through a special filter, then returning it back to you. You may need dialysis for a short time, or for the rest of your life. Caregivers will check your vital signs often during dialysis. You may also be given medicines or have blood taken for lab tests during dialysis.

  • Surgery: You may also need surgery to treat problems causing sepsis.

  • A ventilator is a machine that gives you oxygen and breathes for you when you cannot breathe well on your own. An endotracheal (ET) tube is put into your mouth or nose and attached to the ventilator. You may need a trach if an ET tube cannot be placed. A trach is a tube put through an incision and into your windpipe.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Sepsis (Inpatient Care)

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