What is the criteria for sepsis and how is it diagnosed?

Updated: Oct 07, 2020
  • Author: Andre Kalil, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Michael R Pinsky, MD, CM, Dr(HC), FCCP, FAPS, MCCM  more...
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Answer

The basis of sepsis is the presence of infection associated with a systemic inflammatory response that results in physiologic alterations at the capillary endothelial level. The difficulty in diagnosis comes in knowing when a localized infection has become systemic and requires more aggressive hemodynamic support. No criterion standard exists for the diagnosis of endothelial dysfunction, and patients with sepsis may not initially present with frank hypotension and overt shock.

Clinicians often use the terms sepsis, severe sepsis, and septic shock without following commonly understood definitions. In 1991, the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) and the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) convened a consensus conference to establish definitions of these and related terms. [6, 7] The most recent consensus was published in 2016. [1]


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