Sepsis is a severe infection caused by bacteria in the tissue or blood stream. Properly treated, an infection is usually localized and curable. When left untreated, a minor infection can increase in intensity and scope to the point where the entire body suffers from a systemic severe infection. At this point, the infection is often referred to as sepsis or septicemia and is life-threatening.
Persons with sepsis may experience fever, chills, loss of appetite, rapid breathing and irregular heartbeat. Many times, sepsis develops at the same time as infection in another part of the body, such as a respiratory, skin, or gastrointestinal infection. Sepsis may also coincide with or precede meningitis, an infection of the central nervous system. In severe cases, sepsis can lead to infections of the brain and the heart, and subsequent death.
The skin is one of the main sites of infection leading to sepsis. Normally, the skin serves as a barrier against all manner of viral and bacterial threats, but any cut or other open wound can allow a bacterial infection that can cause sepsis to develop. These include surgical sites, points of entry for intravenous lines, and sites of skin breakdown such as pressure injuries or bedsores. Sepsis prevention can, in part, include monitoring the skin for the development of bedsores, and taking steps to prevent bedsores from developing. If sepsis develops in a patient who was improperly monitored or treated, the medical professionals in charge of administering care may be held liable.
Sepsis can kill patients who otherwise might have recovered fully from their original injuries or illnesses.
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