Spotting and treating Sepsis

Signs and symptoms of Sepsis

Sepsis has a wide range of signs and symptoms that clinicians need to be aware of. An initial review to see if there are any signs of infection that are leading to sepsis can help differentiate it from other potential medical conditions.

An elevated respiratory rate is an early indicator of illness and can be one of the first clinical observations to become abnormal. The respiratory rate will increase due to the compensatory mechanism to reduce metabolic acidosis, a consequence caused by sepsis.

Oxygen saturation may be affected and difficult to read due to potential shock and poor peripheral circulation.

As the body tries to compensate, the heart rate may change from their normal baseline to being potentially tachycardic, bradycardic, or arrhythmias.

Blood pressure values may be different from the patients’ baseline due to the systemic inflammatory response causing mass dilation of vessels and septic shock.

A persons’ mental state and cognitive function may alter due to the effects of sepsis on the body, hypoxia, hypoperfusion, etc.

The temperature may be raised as a result of the body trying to fight an infection or maybe hypothermic due to the later stages of sepsis.

Sepsis screening tools are useful in helping clinicians identify potential sepsis, with the NEWS being a commonly used tool in the UK.

In treating sepsis, it is important to manage critical primary survey elements (CABCD) and rapid transport to the hospital for further care. The patient may require oxygen and fluid therapy. It is important to follow local guidelines as to the treatment of a sepsis patient.