Sepsis is an infection that leads to a systemic inflammatory response resulting in physiologic changes occurring at the capillary endothelial level. This systemic inflammatory response is referred to as Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome or SIRS.

Based on severity, there are three sepsis syndromes:

1. Sepsis. SIRS in the setting of an infection.
2. Severe sepsis. An infection with end-organ dysfunction as a result of hypoperfusion, the reduced delivery of nutrients and oxygen to tissues and organs via the blood.
3. Septic shock. Severe sepsis with persistent hypotension and tissue hypoperfusion despite fluid resuscitation.
A diagnosis of SIRS can generally be made when a patient exhibits two or more of the following:


1. A temperature above 100.4° F or below 96.8° F.

2. A heart rate above 90 beats per minute.

3. A respiration rate above 20 breaths per minute or a Pa CO2 below 32 mm Hg.

4. A white blood cell count above 12,000/µL or below 4000/µL.


Other common symptoms include:


For a tutorial on sepsis, check out the following website:
and click on “Sepsis-What’s Bugging Your Patient” by Linda Bay