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Do you know the signs of sepsis?

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McClelland H, Moxon A (2014) Early identification and treatment of sepsis. Nursing Times; 110: 4, 14-17.

Sepsis is a potentially fatal condition and is becoming increasingly frequent, yet health professionals are often unable to recognise its symptoms. It is the body’s exaggerated response to infection and, if left untreated, will lead to severe sepsis, multi-organ failure and death. Nurses play a vital role in identifying patients with sepsis and starting essential treatment. This article looks at how sepsis can be identified and effectively treated to improve survival.


5 key points

  1. Sepsis is one of the leading causes of death in hospital patients worldwide
  2. Patients with severe sepsis will not respond to fluid replacement
  3. Sepsis can be identified during routine observations so nurses play a vital role in spotting symptoms
  4. All patients with sepsis should have a management plan that includes level of observation, review schedule and an escalation plan
  5. Clear guidance on identification and evidence-based interventions is available to support effective and safe care


After reading this article

  • List the signs of sepsis
  • Identify what groups are at particular risk of sepsis
  • Describe how sepsis is managed
  • Should patients with sepsis be given oxygen?
  • Why is it important to measure urinary output when monitoring patients with sepsis?
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