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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Sepsis in Pregnancy: Recognition and Resuscitation

  • Author(s): Bridwell, Rachel E.
  • Carius, Brandon M.
  • Long, Brit J.
  • Oliver, Joshua J.
  • Schmitz, Gillian
  • et al.

The normal physiologic changes of pregnancy complicate evaluation for sepsis and subsequent management. Previous sepsis studies have specifically excluded pregnant patients. This narrative review evaluates the presentation, scoring systems for risk stratification, diagnosis, and management of sepsis in pregnancy. Sepsis is potentially fatal, but literature for the evaluation and treatment of this condition in pregnancy is scarce. While the definition and considerations of sepsis have changed with large, randomized controlled trials, pregnancy has consistently been among the exclusion criteria. The two pregnancy-specific sepsis scoring systems, the modified obstetric early warning scoring system (MOEWS) and Sepsis in Obstetrics Score (SOS), present a number of limitations for application in the emergency department (ED) setting. Methods of generation and subsequently limited validation leave significant gaps in identification of septic pregnant patients. Management requires consideration of a variety of sources in the septic pregnant patient. The underlying physiologic nature of pregnancy also highlights the need to individualize resuscitation and critical care efforts in this unique patient population. Pregnant septic patients require specific considerations and treatment goals to provide optimal care for this particular population. Guidelines and scoring systems currently exist, but further studies are required.

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