Sepsis (Blood Poisoning)

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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Neonatal Sepsis (Sepsis Neonatorum)

Neonatal sepsis is any infection involving an infant during the first 28 days of life. Neonatal sepsis is also known as "sepsis neonatorum." The infection may involve the infant globally or may be limited to just one organ (such as the lungs with pneumonia).

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Sepsis (blood poisoning) facts

  • Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening medical condition that's associated with an infection.
  • Blood poisoning is a nonmedical term that usually refers to the medical condition known as sepsis.
  • The major diagnostic criteria for sepsis are altered mental status, increased respiratory rate, and low blood pressure.
  • The majority of cases of sepsis are due to bacterial infection.
  • Sepsis is treated with hospitalization, intravenous antibiotics, and therapy to support any organ dysfunction.
  • Although the first doctors to treat a patient with sepsis may be a primary-care, pediatric, or emergency-medicine specialist, critical-care specialists, hospitalists, infectious-disease, and lung (pulmonologists) specialists are usually consulted to help treat sepsis; infrequently, a toxicologist or surgeon may also be consulted.
  • Prevention of infections and early diagnosis and treatment of sepsis are the best ways to prevent sepsis or reduce the problems sepsis causes.
  • The prognosis depends on the severity of sepsis as well as the underlying health status of the patient; in general, the elderly have the worst prognosis.

What is blood poisoning?

Blood poisoning is a nonspecific term used mainly by nonmedical individuals that describes, in the broadest sense, any adverse medical condition(s) due to the presence of any toxic agent in the blood. Usually, the layperson using the term blood poisoning is referring to the medical condition(s) that arise when bacteria or their products (or both) reach the blood. Blood poisoning is not a medical term and does not appear in many medical dictionaries or scientific publications. However, when it is used, the correct medical term that most closely matches its intended meaning is sepsis. Many medical authors consider the terms blood poisoning and sepsis to be interchangeable, but the trend in the medical literature is to use the term sepsis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/4/2016
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