What is sepsis?

Sepsis is a life-threatening illness in which the immune system has developed an increased response to infection. The illness causes blood changes, which can lead to loss of blood flow to major organs, resulting in organ damage.

Sepsis can be caused by a variety of different infections, including urinary tract infections, wound infections, and respiratory infections. Patients at most risk for sepsis include those with invasive lines such as IVs, and urinary catheters, patients with diabetes, and patients who have immune system depression by infection or medications. In addition, if infection is not recognized or treated appropriately, sepsis may result.

What are the signs and symptoms of sepsis?

  • Shaking chills
  • Fever (often higher than previous readings and uncontrolled by anti-fever medications)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Decreased urine output
  • Increased confusion
  • Increased heart rate
  • High white blood cell counts
  • Confusion and/or increased sedation

What is the treatment for sepsis?

Treatment for sepsis usually consists of IV fluids, IV antibiotics, and supportive care until the infection can be resolved. Such care is often given in an intensive care unit setting due to the severe illness that sepsis causes.

How can sepsis be prevented?

The best way nursing home staff can protect your loved one from sepsis is to use good infection control methods, such as proper skin and wound care, routine changing of Foley catheters, properly washing their hands, and being astute to the signs of infection.


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