Signs and symptoms of sepsis

Sepsis is often referred to as a ‘silent killer’ because it can be extremely difficult to identify in the early stages for both professionals and the public alike, with symptoms suggestive of less serious illnesses. Whilst some segments of the community are more at risk of developing sepsis, such as the very old and very young and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, any person can develop sepsis at any time.

If your patient presents to an emergency department with a suspected infection combined with any of the sepsis symptoms, we recommend assessing them using the emergency department sepsis pathway. The pathway is a cognitive aid to help health professionals’ rule in or rule out sepsis and does not commit the treating team to a diagnosis of sepsis and does not replace good clinical judgement.

Last updated: 4 June 2021