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Diseases & Conditions

Respiratory Institute Overview - Sepsis

Sepsis is a life-threatening infection caused by bacteria in the bloodstream. It can occur as a result of any infection in the body, but is often a complication of lung infection. Symptoms include sudden high fever, shaking, chills, weakness, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. If the person suffering these symptoms has an infection, has had recent surgery or has a catheter or drainage tube, sepsis should be suspected.

Treatment for sepsis includes immediate antibiotics followed by a blood culture to identify the type of bacteria. The antibiotic chosen depends on the most likely source of the infection. Any catheter, tube or other foreign object is withdrawn from the body or replaced without delay. In some cases, the source of the infection may be removed surgically. The Cleveland Clinic's physicians are actively involved in research aimed at finding more effective ways to treat sepsis.

To transfer a patient with sepsis to The Cleveland Clinic’s Medical Intensive Care Unit, ask your physician to call The Cleveland Clinic’s physician referral line toll-free at 800.553.5056.