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Sepsis Lab Tests

         I am not trying to make doctors out of you, nor do we want to confuse you. But there are some things that you should know about indicators and sepsis so you can better understand what is happening.  It is important to speak up and ask questions to understand what is happening and what is going on.


This information is on your Vitals-Watch App, so you can refer to it and ask your healthcare providers about your own or loved ones' blood test results (also called values). Your knowledge alerts your doctors of your concerns and it may prompt them to check if you have sepsis. It also can allow you to see if you or your family member are getting better.


   You need to tell your nurses on every shift change and tell everyone, everyday: "I am concerned about sepsis!"  Ask to be screened on each shift!

If you have an infection or are worried about getting an infection and/or sepsis, you should ask your doctor about these tests.

Lactate values

High lactate levels in the blood of someone with sepsis are associated with a greater risk of death. The values go up when the cells can't get enough oxygen. High lactate levels can occur for a few reasons, including an infection and sepsis. As a person recovers, the lactate levels usually drop. 


Normal lactate values (measurements) are usually between 1 and 2.

It is OK to ask what your lactate value is!

Procalcitonin check

Procalcitonin (PCT) is a hormone that is released by the body.  When a bacterial infection is present, PCT levels go up. A higher than normal PCT level does not automatically mean that there is an infection or sepsis, however.


Normal levels are less than 0.05. 

It is OK to ask if they are going to run a PCT.

White blood cell (WBC) count

The major role for white blood cells (WBCs) is to fight infections. These cells circulate and try to contain or destroy the infectious cells. If there is an infection, the number of WBCs rises.  


Normally, a healthy person has between 4,500 and 10,000 WBCs per microliter of blood, depending on the laboratory.  Someone with sepsis, will have a higher, or elevated, count. Some will have a lower one. Ask your healthcare provider what your number is and what does it mean concerning your condition. You might keep a diary.


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