How to Prevent Bloodstream Infections that Lead to Sepsis

| Last updated on November 20, 2023

Healthcare-associated bloodstream infections, if not identified and treated quickly enough, can lead to the development of sepsis: a serious complication of infection.

Sepsis is a life-threatening response to infection that results in the death of at least 350,000 adults in America each year and 2.9 million children around the world.  

Sepsis statistics indicating 350,000 adults in America and 2.9 million children around the world die of sepsis each year.

In fact, sepsis is the cause of 1 in 5 deaths worldwide

Infographic stating that sepsis is the cause of 1 in 5 deaths worldwide.

Sepsis is more common and more dangerous for those living with other serious illnesses, and in the very young and old.

Yet, with appropriate prevention and early diagnosis, bloodstream infections that lead to sepsis are preventable. 

Below is curated medical knowledge to help bring awareness to the risks of bloodstream infections turning into sepsis and how to avoid these clinical complications from the outset. 


  1. What bloodstream infections and sepsis are,
  2. The symptoms of bloodstream infections and sepsis,
  3. How bloodstream infections and sepsis are treated 
  4. How to prevent bloodstream infections and sepsis. 

The Cost of Sepsis

An infographic about the impact of sepsis in the US and the world regarding: hospital readmission, deaths, cost for care, and number of cases.


What are bloodstream infections that lead to sepsis? 

A bloodstream infection, also known as bacteremia, septicemia or blood poisoning, begins when germs like bacteria, viruses or fungi get into the bloodstream.

Catheter related bloodstream infections are one of the leading causes of sepsis, alongside lung, kidney and digestive infections. 

When not treated quickly enough, bloodstream infections can lead to sepsis.

According to the Journal of Applied Laboratory Medicine, the development of sepsis requires not only an infection, but a maladaptive host response and organ dysfunction, and as such, sepsis requires specialized treatment. 

Symptoms of a bloodstream infection and sepsis 

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the early symptoms of a bloodstream infection are: 

  • High fever and chills
  • Weakness
  • Sweating
  • Drop in blood pressure

In severe cases, bloodstream infections can lead to sepsis. 

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the symptoms of sepsis are:

  • Fever and shaking 
  • Confusion or delirium
  • Rapid heartbeat or weak pulse
  • Hyperventilation
  • Warm skin or skin rash
  • Decreased urine output 

Although the symptoms of sepsis are similar to those of bloodstream infections, sepsis is ultimately more concerning. 

Sepsis occurs when the immune system attacks its own organs and tissues, which can cause damage to the kidneys, lungs, brain and heart.

A severe complication of sepsis is septic shock, a life threatening condition, that occurs when your blood pressure drops extremely low.

While patients can survive sepsis, many are left with lifelong complications.

Who is most likely to get sepsis?

Anyone can get sepsis, but there are some populations that are more vulnerable to the development of sepsis than others. 

According to the CDC, those most likely to develop sepsis are: 

  • Adults aged 65+
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • People with chronic medical conditions
    • (eg: diabetes, lung disease, cancer, kidney disease)
  • People with recent severe illness or hospitalization
    • (including hospitalization due to severe COVID-19)
  • People who have previously survived sepsis
  • Children younger than one

Sepsis disproportionately affects specific communities, including: black and hispanic children, and Native Americans. 

The development of sepsis due to Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs)

Hospital associated infections impact every 1 in 25 hospitalized patients. 

Some common forms of HAIs are: 

HAIs are the leading cause of death in acute-care hospitals, and yet HAIs are preventable

Patients deserve protection from HAIs – which is why Covalon has developed advanced medical technology to do just that. Keep reading to learn more. 

How bloodstream infections and sepsis are treated

Like most infections, bloodstream infections and sepsis are treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics, usually administered through an IV.

When a bloodstream infection is identified and treated early enough, sepsis may be avoided. 

If sepsis does develop, the healthcare team must identify the original source of the infection in order to ensure successful treatment. Along with antibiotics, intravenous fluids will be given and medication to increase blood pressure may be needed as well.

If sepsis occurs, a patient may be admitted to the ICU for supportive care such as:

  • Breathing support
  • Dialysis 
  • Sedatives 
  • Additional monitoring 

How to prevent bloodstream infections or sepsis 

Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI) are preventable, including bloodstream infections and sepsis. 

Today medical technology has evolved to decrease human error and improve patient outcomes, protecting patients from potentially life-altering infections that can be avoided completely. 

Healthcare providers can now protect and guard IV lines from contaminants that lead to infection. 

Dual-antimicrobial dressings can be used to kill 99.99% of microorganisms associated with CRBSI. 

Covalon has designed world-class products to put new and improved tools in the hands of the frontline to help prevent infections, improve patient outcomes and save on costs. 

Contact us today and request samples of ValGuard and IVClear to learn why America’s top pediatric hospitals rely on us to help guard and protect their most vulnerable patients from Healthcare Associated Infections. 


CDC – What is Sepsis?

WHO – Who calls for global action on sepsis

National Institute of General Medical Sciences – Sepsis


Infographic Sources

Journal of the American Medical Association – Sepsis is a Leading Cause of Hospital Readmission
National Institute of General Medical Sciences – Sepsis
WHO – WHO calls for global action on sepsis
Sepsis Alliance – Sepsis burden higher than thought
Sepsis Alliance – Children
Healthline – Bacteremia 
Cleveland Clinic – Septicemia 
Mayo Clinic – Sepsis 
Journal of Applied Laboratory Medicine – Pathologic Difference between Sepsis and Bloodstream Infections
John Hopkins – Sepsis 
Kids Health – Sepsis
CDC – Get Ahead of Sepsis 
Sepsis Alliance – Septic Shock

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