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AACN Clinical Issues: Advanced Practice in Acute & Critical Care:

The Puzzle of Sepsis: Fitting the Pieces of the Inflammatory Response With Treatment

Cunneen, Jane MSN, RN, CCRN; Cartwright, Martina PhD, RD

Section Editor(s): Van Soeren, Mary PhD, RN, ACNP; Cheek, Dennis PhD, RN, FAHA

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Sepsis is a complex syndrome characterized by simultaneous activation of inflammation and coagulation in response to microbial insult. These events manifest as systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS)/sepsis symptoms through release of proinflammatory cytokines, procoagulants, and adhesion molecules from immune cells and/or damaged endothelium.

Conventional treatments have focused on source control, antimicrobials, vasopressors, and fluid resuscitation; however, a new treatment paradigm exists: that of treating the host response to infection with adjunct therapies including early goal directed therapy, drotrecogin alfa (activated), and immunonutrition. The multimechanistic drotrecogin alfa (activated) has been shown to reduce mortality in the severely septic patient when combined with traditional treatment. Therapies targeting improved oxygen and blood flow and reduction of apoptosis and free radicals are under investigation. Early sepsis diagnosis through detection of pro calcitonin, C reactive protein, sublingual CO2, and genetic factors may be beneficial. Ultimately, intervention timing may be the most important factor in reducing severe sepsis mortality.

© Copyright 2004 American Association of Critical-Care Nurses


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