Sepsis Information Sheet

What is Sepsis?

Sepsis is a life-threatening response to infection. It can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and even death. It can result from an infection anywhere in the body, including on the skin, in the lungs, urinary tract, and abdomen. It is often difficult to diagnose and treat.

Why is Sepsis Care, Treatment and Prevention Important?

As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are over one million cases of sepsis yearly in the U.S. and the mortality rate ranges between 20 and 50 percent. Unfortunately, the incidence of sepsis is on the rise. Even in those who survive, there are often long-term health complications including permanent organ damage.

Who is at Risk?

Sepsis can occur even after a minor infection and can affect anyone, but according to the CDC, some people are at greater risk, including:

  • Those with weakened immune systems
  • Infants and young children
  • Elderly
  • People with chronic illnesses (i.e. diabetes, AIDS, cancer, kidney or liver disease)
  • Those with severe burn injuries

How Can Sepsis Be Prevented?

  • Promotion of routine vaccinations such as pneumococcus and meningitis
  • Smoking cessation
  • Strategies to prevent hospital-acquired infections (HAI)
  • Preventing other infections through good hygiene and wound care
  • Learning the symptoms of sepsis (shivering/chills, fever, rapid breathing and heartrate, rash, confusion, and disorientation)
  • Seek medical treatment if you have symptoms of sepsis

How is Sepsis Treated?

Patients with sepsis are hospitalized, usually in the ICU, for treatment with intravenous (IV) antibiotics, fluids, and organ support. Sometimes surgery is necessary. People with sepsis often need life-sustaining treatments to help them breath and maintain kidney function.

Evidence-based Sepsis Care Bundles

Evidence-based care bundles are a set of 3-5 practice interventions that, when implemented in a coordinated and consistent way, have been shown to improve care (IHI, 2015). The Surviving Sepsis Campaign (SSC), a collaborative effort between the Society of Critical Care Medicine and the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine, is committed to reducing the worldwide burden of sepsis mortality and has developed Sepsis Care Bundles based on scientific evidence of best practices (SSC, 2015).

References & Resources