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Recognise sepsis

Clinicians in busy emergency rooms are pretty good at estimating a > 50% chance of a patient having sepsis.1 For patients in general practice, key risk factors include being Māori or Pacific, socio-economic deprivation and co-morbidities. The lay term ‘blood poisoning’ provides a shorthand for sepsis: a state of vascular endothelial failure due to infection showing up as malaise, confusion, and altered skin perfusion. Low blood pressure, high pulse and high temperature (and respiratory rate in children) signify sepsis.

The language for informing the hospital is: “I have a 70-year-old with red flag sepsis of uncertain (or known) cause.”

If available, IM/IV ceftriaxone (if not available, a penicillin or other cephalosporin) after blood cultures if possible.

Goodfellow Unit has just published a resource with the Sepsis Trust as a reminder.2

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