Septic shock

  • Alternative Names

    Bacteremic shock; Endotoxic shock; Septicemic shock; Warm shock


    Septic shock is a medical emergency. Patients are usually admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital.

    Treatment may include:

    • Breathing machine (mechanical ventilation)
    • Drugs to treat low blood pressure, infection, or blood clotting
    • Fluids given directly into a vein (intravenously)
    • Oxygen
    • Surgery

    There are new drugs that act against the extreme inflammatory response seen in septic shock. These may help limit organ damage.

    Hemodynamic monitoring -- the evaluation of the pressures in the heart and lungs -- may be required. This can only be done with special equipment and intensive care nursing.

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    Septic shock has a high death rate. The death rate depends on the patient's age and overall health, the cause of the infection, how many organs have failed, and how quickly and aggressively medical therapy is started.


    Respiratory failure, cardiac failure, or any other organ failure can occur. Gangrene may occur, possibly leading to amputation.

    Calling your health care provider

    Go directly to an emergency department if you develop symptoms of septic shock.