Sepsis is your body’s extreme and life-threatening response to infection (CDC, 2019). More importantly, sepsis is a medical emergency.

What are the warning signs of sepsis?

The warning signs of sepsis can resemble many other health conditions. Be aware of the following:

  • Fever, shivering, or feeling very cold
  • Clammy or sweaty skin
  • High heart rate
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dramatic drop in blood pressure
  • Rapid breathing
  • Darkened or reduced urine
  • Severe pain without a known cause

Who is at risk for developing sepsis?

  • Those older than 65 and those under one-year old (CDC, 2019) are at highest risk.
  • Those with weakened immune systems due to medication or disease.
  • Those with chronic illness, such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, cancer or lung disease (CDC, 2019).
  • Anyone can get an infection, and almost any infection can lead to sepsis (CDC, 2020).

What should I do if I think I have sepsis?

If you are experiencing any of the signs of sepsis, seek medical care and state, “Could this be sepsis?”

  • Sepsis begins outside the hospital in 80% of those affected (CDC, 2019).
  • Early identification and treatment are clinically proven to improve patient outcomes.

References
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sepsis Questions and Answers. Updated August 26, 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/sepsis/basic/qa.html. Accessed August 27, 2020.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Get Ahead of Sepsis – Know the Risks. Spot the Signs. Act Fast. Updated February 25, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/patientsafety/features/get-ahead-of-sepsis.html. Accessed August 27, 2020.

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Marianne Krueger, BSN, RN, CCRN

Marianne Krueger, BNS, RN, CCRN, is the RN sepsis improvement coordinator for UofL Health – UofL Hospital. Marianne supports process improvement initiatives within UofL Hospital to ensure effective and quality care of sepsis patients by using evidence-based practice and current sepsis guidelines. Marianne serves as a resource for nursing staff and providers and evaluates processes to reduce barriers related to sepsis care.

All posts by Marianne Krueger, BSN, RN, CCRN
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