The body's systemic response to an infection, sepsis can progress to severe sepsis and, in some cases, to septic shock. More than 1 million Americans suffer from severe sepsis annually. This number may grow in the future because sepsis risk increases with age.
Sepsis is deadly and expensive. In 2011, it was the most expensive condition in U.S. hospitals, accounting for more than $20 billion in medical costs. In a 2013 report of inpatient hospital deaths, mortality decreased for many diagnoses, including respiratory failure, stroke, and heart disease—but for septicemia (frequently associated with severe infection) it rose 17% during the same period. (See Defining sepsis-related terms.)
This article discusses the nurse’s role in early sepsis recognition and explains how to apply sepsis care guidelines to clinical practice.
Key Learning Outcomes
Christa Schorr, RN, MSN, FCCM, is a clinical nurse scientist with Cooper Research Institute-Critical Care in Cooper University Healthcare in Camden, New Jersey.
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