Sepsis can have severe clinical consequences (morbidity) and has a high death (mortality) rate. The successful treatment of sepsis depends on an early diagnosis and identification of the specific bacterial cause. This can be complicated by the fact that people with sepsis often present with symptoms that are not specific to sepsis.
It is important to begin treatment early and to monitor the affected person carefully. Treatment may begin in the hospital emergency room (ER) and is frequently continued and monitored with the person in an intensive care unit (ICU).
Treatment is focused on resolving the infection, stabilizing the person's blood pressure and oxygen supply, restoring acid-base balance, and supporting organ function.
Broad-spectrum antibiotics are usually given intravenously (IV). Drug therapy may be changed to a more targeted therapy once the exact type of bacteria causing the sepsis is identified and antibiotic susceptibility testing is performed.
IV fluids are given to help improve and stabilize blood pressure. Sometimes medications are given to constrict blood vessels and increase blood pressure.
Supplemental oxygen may be necessary, and some people need to be put on a mechanical ventilator to assist with breathing.
Other organ support, such as kidney dialysis, is sometimes necessary when organs start to fail.
Surgical procedures are sometimes necessary to remove medical devices such as catheters that may be the source of the infection, to drain abscesses or fluids, to remove and/or fix damaged tissue, and to remove blockages.