How is bacterial sepsis treated?

Updated: Feb 05, 2019
  • Author: Amber Mahmood Bokhari, MBBS; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Early aggressive medical therapy is indicated in patients with suspected sepsis. [46, 29, 47, 28, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53]

Sepsis Treatment

Patients with sepsis are generally ill and require inpatient hospitalization or admission to the intensive care unit (ICU) for monitoring and treatment. Admission to an ICU depends on the severity of the septic process and the degree of organ dysfunction.

Determine the likely source of the infection, and administer intravenous (IV) empiric antimicrobial agents until culture results become available, at which point more narrow-spectrum agents can be used (see below). In addition, offer supportive therapy aimed at maintaining organ perfusion, and provide respiratory support when necessary. [48, 54, 55]

A recent prospective study of 5787 adult patients with severe sepsis revealed the importance of goal-directed treatment. Patients triaged and managed according to 4 clinical goals (blood cultures before antibiotics, lactate before 90 minutes, IV antibiotics before 180 minutes, and 30 mL/kg of IV fluids before 180 minutes) were significantly less likely to die in the hospital than were those for whom all 4 of these goals were not met (22.6% vs 26.5%, respectively). [56]

In a multivariate regression analysis adjusted for age, admission to the intensive care unit (ICU), vasopressor initiation, central venous catheter insertion, and monitoring of central venous pressure and central venous oxygen saturation, complete compliance with the clinical goals was associated with a survival odds ratio of 1.194 (1.04-1.37). [56]

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