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What Is the Treatment for Pediatric Septic Shock?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Pediatric septic shock requires rapid intervention to stabilize the patient and get organ systems functioning properly again, along with the metabolism. This includes early and aggressive evaluation of patients who might be in shock so medical providers can identify them as rapidly as possible. Treatment may require a transfer to a medical facility with an advanced pediatric intensive care unit, because extensive supportive therapy may be necessary for days or weeks to help the patient recover. Untreated pediatric septic shock can be fatal within hours.

This condition occurs when the patient has a severe infection that starts to overwhelm organ systems and the metabolism. The blood pressure drops to extremely low levels, and the patient’s body rapidly develops hypoxia because of limited oxygen supplies. First line treatment for pediatric septic shock is fluid resuscitation to raise the blood pressure. Medications can also be used to raise blood pressure by constricting blood vessels or increasing cardiac output.

Antibiotics are an important part of the treatment for pediatric septic shock. High doses of strong antibiotics may be provided immediately in an attempt to knock out the infection, while samples taken from the patient are cultured to learn more about the organisms responsible. If necessary, the antibiotic therapy can be changed to a more appropriate drug. These medications are critical for bringing the infection under control so the patient doesn’t fall back into crisis.

Some patients in septic shock may need to be intubated because they cannot breathe independently or there are concerns about whether they will be able to continue to so. In these instances, pediatric septic shock care can include mechanical ventilation to help the patient breathe. Some patients require treatments like dialysis to compensate for failing organs, along with other supportive therapies to address specific issues. For example, if a patient has open lesions caused by colonization with infectious bacteria, these need to be irrigated, cleaned, and bandaged to keep the patient comfortable.

Throughout treatment for pediatric septic shock, constant monitoring helps medical providers assess the patient’s changing needs. This can include equipment to keep track of blood pressure, heart rate, and other vital signs. Regular blood draws can provide information about white blood cell counts, bacteria in the bloodstream, and other indicators. As the patient’s status changes, the care team needs to be prepared to adapt while still focusing on the specific end goal of addressing the infection and restoring homeostasis in the patient’s body.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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