Recognition and Diagnosis of Sepsis in Adults: A Review of Evidence-Based Guidelines


Project Line:
Health Technology Review
Project Sub Line:
Summary with Critical Appraisal
Project Number:


  1. What are the evidence-based guidelines regarding the use of tests or procedures for the recognition and diagnosis of sepsis in adults with suspected sepsis?

Key Message

Six evidence-based guidelines were identified for diagnostic tests or processes for the recognition and detection of sepsis in adult populations. Three of these guidelines explored the recognition and detection of sepsis in broader populations, while three others focused on sepsis in cancer patients, sepsis in pregnancy and sepsis following pregnancy.Overall, areas of agreement across the guidelines included a variety of tests for the detecting sepsis, such as: temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, level of consciousness, oxygen saturation, blood cultures; urine, cerebrospinal fluid, wounds, respiratory secretions, or other body fluids that may be the source of infection; lactate; urea; electrolytes; C-reactive protein; full blood count; kidney and liver function tests (including albumin). Finally, the guidelines consistently noted that imaging studies be complete to confirm a potential source of infection, with the exception of the NICE guideline for Neutropenic Sepsis in Cancer Patients, which stated Do not perform a chest X-ray unless clinically indicated.