Sepsis (1) is scary. It can start off showing signs and symptoms of pneumonia, urinary tract infection or the flu. Before you know it, it has already developed into a widespread inflammation and infection, causing organ failure and even death.
As a nurse, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your patients don’t develop infection and sepsis while under your care. And if the patients you are caring for are already diagnosed with it, it’s important that the condition doesn’t worsen and that you’re able to help manage it.
Who’s at risk for sepsis?
Anyone can develop sepsis. However, there are specific groups who are more prone to it.
The list includes:
- People with really weak immune systems
- Young children
- People exposed to invasive devices
- People with chronic illness
What are the symptoms of sepsis?
What makes detection of sepsis tricky is that its symptoms can easily be mistaken for those of other health conditions. As a nurse, you need to be able to recognize its main signs so you can act quickly.
Here’s what you need to watch out for:
- Fast heart rate or pulse
- Rapid breathing
- Unusual sweating
Sepsis can quickly turn into severe sepsis. Make it a point to assess your patients for the following signs and symptoms:
- Abrupt changes in mental status
- Difficulty breathing
- Abdominal pain
- Significantly reduced urine output
- A decrease in platelet count
Now, as a way to help you care for your patients, here are a few nursing care plans for sepsis you’ll find handy.
May be related to:
- Elevated metabolic rate
- Inflammatory process
- Altered temperature regulation
- Effect of circulating endotoxins on the hypothalamus
Possibly evidenced by:
- Flushed skin, warm to touch
- Increased respiratory rate
- Increase in body temperature higher than the normal range
- Maintains normal body temperature
|Monitor the client’s temperature.||Acute infectious disease processes are often suggested by a temperature that’s 102°F and higher. Fever is a common symptom of sepsis (2).|
|Adjust environmental factors as indicated. Remove excess clothing as necessary.||Adjusting room temperature and linens can assist in maintaining a near-normal body temperature. Removing excess cover can expose skin to room air, facilitating in evaporative cooling.|
|Provide tepid sponge baths as necessary.||Tepid sponge baths can help lower fever. Avoid the use of alcohol and ice water as they can elevate temperature and cause skin dehydration.|
|Administer antipyretics as ordered.||Antipyretics acts on the hypothalamus to lower the body’s temperature.|
|Provide a cooling blanket.||Cooling blankets can reduce fever when the temperature is above 104°F.|
2Risk For Deficient Fluid Volume
- Increase in vascular compartment, massive vasodilation
- Capillary permeability
- Maintains adequate circulatory volume
|Assess vital signs.||Tachycardia, hypotension, and fever can signal the body’s response to fluid loss.|
|Observe for excessively dry skin and mucous membranes.||This indicates excessive fluid loss as a result of severe dehydration.|
|Monitor for peripheral edema in the legs, back, and scrotum.||Fluid moving from the vascular compartment towards the interstitial space leads to tissue edema.|
|Check peripheral pulses.||Pulses that are weak and easily obliterated indicate hypovolemia.|
|Administer IV fluids as ordered.||Fluid therapy in the early course of sepsis is more effective. It’s a fundamental sepsis therapy (3).|
3Risk for Infection
- Invasive procedures
- Increased environmental exposure to pathogens
- Insufficient knowledge regarding avoidance of exposure to pathogens
- Remains free from signs and symptoms of infection
- Maintains white blood cell count and differential within normal limits
- Achieves timely healing
- Absence of drainage, fever, and purulent secretions
|Monitor vital signs.||Increase in temperature and breathing may indicate developing sepsis.|
|Inspect wound and dressings and note any changes in the characteristics of drainage.||Early detection allows the opportunity for prevention of more serious complications.|
|Maintain aseptic technique in any procedure.||Prevents entry of bacteria and reduces the risk of nosocomial infections.|
|Encourage a balanced diet.||Eating the right foods can boost the immune system. Intake of protein, vitamins A, C, and E, and iron and zinc affects the immune function.|
|Encourage frequent position changes.||Prevents the stasis of body fluids and promotes the functioning of body organs.|
|Promote meticulous perineal care and provide routine catheter care.||Reduces the risk of ascending UTI and prevents bacterial colonization.|
|Use proper handwashing technique and encourage the same in a patient.||Meticulous hand washing (4) decreases the number of pathogens on the skin.|
|Follow transmission-based precautions as indicated.||All infectious patients need to undergo body substance isolation. Patients with diseases that can be transmitted through the air may require droplet and airborne precautions.|
|Administer medications as ordered.||Antibiotic therapy may be directed toward specific organisms while wide-spectrum antibiotics may be used as prophylaxis.|
1. Lever, A., & Mackenzie, I. (2007). Sepsis: definition, epidemiology, and diagnosis. Bmj, 335(7625), 879-883.
2. Schortgen, F. (2012). Fever in sepsis. Minerva anestesiologica, 78(11), 1254-1264.
3. Brown, R. M., & Semler, M. W. (2019). Fluid management in sepsis. Journal of intensive care medicine, 34(5), 364-373.
4. Toney-Butler, T. J., & Carver, N. (2018). Hand, Washing (Hand Hygiene).
Doenges, M. E., Moorhouse, M. F., & Murr, A. C. (2019). Nurse’s pocket guide: Diagnoses, prioritized interventions, and rationales. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis.