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Sepsis

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Sepsis happens when an infection spreads and causes your body to react strongly to germs. Your body's defense system normally releases chemicals to fight off infection at the infected area. When infection spreads, chemicals are released throughout your body. The chemicals cause inflammation and clotting in small blood vessels that is difficult to control. Inflammation and clotting decrease blood flow and oxygen to your organs. This may cause your organs to stop working correctly. Sepsis is a life-threatening emergency.

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.

Monitoring:

Healthcare providers will closely monitor your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, temperature, and pain. You will have an IV line used to give medicines or liquid, or to draw blood samples. Providers will also check your kidney function by measuring how much you are urinating.

Medicines:

You may be given medicine to do any of the following:

  • Increase your blood pressure and blood flow to your organs
  • Treat the infection causing sepsis
  • Control or lower your heart rate
  • Prevent blood clots

Treatment:

Treatment may include any of the following:

  • Removal of any device or tissue that may be causing the infection
  • Oxygen or a breathing machine (ventilator) to provide breathing support
  • Pneumatic boots to help prevent blood clots
  • An IV for nutrition and fluid support *
  • A blood transfusion to replace red blood cells damaged or lost due to bleeding
  • Dialysis for kidney support if your kidneys are not working properly

Tests:

  • An x-ray, ultrasound, CT, or MRI may show the source of infection. You may be given contrast liquid to help the infection show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • Blood and urine tests will show infection, organ function, and give information about your overall health. A blood test may also show what germ is causing your illness.
  • Blood gases will show how much oxygen and carbon dioxide are in your blood. The results will tell healthcare providers how well your lungs, heart, and kidneys are working.
  • An echocardiogram is a type of ultrasound. Sound waves are used to show the structure and function of your heart. The test will also check for damage to your heart valves that may be caused by infection.
  • A lumbar puncture (spinal tap) may be done to test your cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) for germs. It can also check for signs of infection in or around your brain. CSF surrounds your spinal column and your brain.

RISKS:

Without treatment, sepsis may develop into septic shock (sepsis with low blood pressure). Multiple organs may shut down. These problems can be life-threatening. Your organs may be permanently damaged by septic shock.

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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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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)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Mayo Clinic Reference

Medicine.com Guides (External)

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.