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Sepsis is a continuum of physiologic stages characterized by infection, systemic inflammation, and hypoperfusion leading to tissue injury and organ failure (Table 26-1 for definitions to utilize for sepsis syndromes). Risk factors for sepsis include extremes of age, cancer, immunodeficiency, chronic organ failure, genetic factors (male and non-white ethnic origin in North America), patients with bacteremia, and genetic polymorphisms associated with immune regulation. Pulmonary, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, and bloodstream infections account for the majority of sepsis cases.

TABLE 26-1Definitions Related to Sepsis

The development of sepsis is complex and multifactorial. The key factor in the development of sepsis is inflammation. Infection or injury is controlled through pro- and anti-inflammatory mediators. Systemic responses ensue when there is an overwhelming pro-inflammatory response.

The clinical presentation of sepsis varies and the development of clinical manifestations may differ from patient to patient (see Table 26-1). Recently international consensus definitions have been updated for sepsis and septic shock. The Sequential (Sepsis-Related) Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score now defines those patients with sepsis-related organ dysfunction identified with a score more than or equal to 2. This score is calculated from various organ system functional assessments including respiratory function, coagulation, hepatic function, cardiovascular function, central nervous system function, and renal function. A rapid, bedside screening tool to identify patients at risk for sepsis-related organ dysfunction is known as the qSOFA or “quick” SOFA score and is considered positive in the presence of any 2 of the 3 following criteria: respiratory rate more than or equal to 22, altered mentation, or systolic blood pressure less than or equal to 100 mm Hg. The cumulative burden of sepsis complications is the leading factor in mortality. The most common complications are disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), acute kidney injury (AKI), and hemodynamic compromise.

Gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria are major causes of sepsis, but fungal species and viruses can also cause sepsis. Microbiologic cultures should be obtained before anti-infective therapy is initiated; however, antibiotic therapy should not be delayed until the return of gram stain or culture data. Cultures take 6 to 48 hours for results to be returned and often reveal no growth of bacterial organisms but negative cultures do not rule out ...

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