Normally, your body’s own defense system will fight infection, but in severe sepsis, the body’s normal reaction goes into overdrive, setting off events that can lead to widespread inflammation and blood clotting in tiny vessels throughout the body. Memorial Health has implemented protocols to provide timely delivery of the most up-to-date sepsis care.

Who is at risk for sepsis?

Anyone is at risk for sepsis. Individuals with the following have increased risk:

  • Chronic illness: diabetes, kidney and liver failure, heart disease
  • Malnutrition
  • Invasive devices: PICC lines, central lines, urinary catheters, implanted tubes or ports
  • Surgical, traumatic or chronic wounds
  • History of sepsis
  • Surgical or invasive diagnostic procedures
  • Chemotherapy or radiation treatments

There are three stages of sepsis

Stage 1: Sepsis

  • Temperature > 100.4°F or < 96.8°F
  • Respiratory rate > 20 breaths per minute
  • Heart rate > 90 beats per minute
  • An infection such as pneumonia, urinary tract infection, wounds or infected lines/ports

Stage 2: Severe Sepsis

  • Stage 1 symptoms and signs of organ damage such as decreased urination, altered mental status

Stage 3: Septic Shock

  • Stage 1 & 2 symptoms and steadily decreasing blood pressure

How do I recognize when my loved one needs assistance?

Symptoms to watch for include:

  • Fever, shaking, chills
  • Bad cough
  • Confusion
  • Lethargic
  • Persistent nausea and vomiting
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased rate of breathing
  • Not making as much urine

During your stay

You may be seen and treated by a variety of staff members who are involved in your care. Some of our team consists of:

  • Nurse
  • Case Manager
  • Clinical Program Coordinator
  • Doctor
  • Physician Assistant
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Resident
  • Dietitian
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Pharmacist
  • Rapid Response Nurse
  • Respiratory Therapist

How is sepsis diagnosed?

The doctor will speak with you about symptoms and medical history and then perform a physical exam.

  • If sepsis is suspected, the doctor will try to find the source of the infection. Tests may include:
    • Blood cultures to confirm the diagnosis of sepsis
    • Cultures of the urine, sputum, stool and other secretions to check for bacteria or other infectious agents
    • X-ray, CT scan or MRI to take pictures of the structures inside the body
    • Other specialized tests depending on the suspected source of infection

People with sepsis are usually treated in the hospital. Doctors will usually treat the infection, with intravenous (IV) antibiotics. IV fluids are also given to help maintain normal blood pressures.

Multiple tests and blood work will be done to monitor the infection, sepsis and your progress.

What to do if you suspect sepsis

  • At home: Call 911
  • At hospital: Tell your nurse