Understanding the Basics of Sepsis

Understanding the Basics of Sepsis

Sepsis is an overwhelming inflammatory response to an infection (Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, or SIRS for short). For a patient to meet sepsis criteria, they need to have a suspected or confirmed infection (see post on basic lab values if you need a refresher on White Blood Cell values (WBC) and what their range indicates)  ]along with two or more of the following:

  • Temperature greater than 38 or less than 36 degrees Celsius
  • Heart rate greater than 90 beats per min
  • Respiratory rate greater than 20 reparations per min or a PaC02 less than 32 mmhg
  • White Blood Cells (WBC) greater than 12,000 or less than 4,000 (or greater than 10% immature blood cells if evaluating the WBC differential

What qualifies as Severe Sepsis?

For sepsis to be considered severe, one or more of the following organ dysfunction criteria needs to be present:

  • Systolic blood pressure less than 90 mmHg or a Mean Arterial Pressure (MAP) lessthan 65 mmHg
  • A systolic blood decrease of 40 mmHg or more compared with the patients normal (so for example if a patient’s normal systolic blood pressure is 160, a drop below 120 would meet this criteria)
  • Creatinine level greater than 2.0 mg/dl and/or urine output less than 0.5 m

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