Delayed Diagnosis of Sepsis (Claims Corner CME)


In reviewing closed malpractice claims, The Doctors Company has identified delayed diagnosis and treatment of sepsis as a serious problem that can result in significant morbidity and mortality. This article highlights the importance of timely recognition of symptoms that point to a diagnosis of sepsis, and the need for quick initiation of treatment. Factors contributing to the delayed diagnosis and treatment of sepsis are discussed, including clinical judgment errors such as failure to note the importance of significant clinical symptoms, failure to seriously consider sepsis as high on the differential diagnosis, failure to use a sepsis recognition tool as an adjunct to the exam, failure to order appropriate tests to rule out sepsis before assuming another diagnosis, and failure to admit the patient to the hospital for treatment.

Course ID #: TDE 221174.0 Issue Date: 10/17/2022 Expiration Date: 10/17/2025

Learning Objectives

After completing this activity, learners will be able to:

  • Identify and implement three sepsis recognition tools that can be used in the ambulatory setting to assist in determining whether a patient might be septic and/or need a higher level of care.
  • Evaluate why leukopenia is critical context when considering a patient’s risk level for sepsis.
  • Develop strategies to identify sepsis in a patient who presents as afebrile but with other signs and symptoms that could be indicative of sepsis.
  • Use best practices for choosing imaging and lab tests when ruling out sepsis in a patient.
  • Apply at least one strategy to ensure best documentation practices.


No individual in a position to control or influence the content of this activity has reported relevant financial relationships with commercial interests. No commercial support was provided for this activity.


The information and guidelines contained in this activity are generalized and may not apply to all practice situations. We recommend that legal advice be obtained from a qualified attorney for specific application to your practice. The information is intended for educational purposes and should be used as a reference guide only.

Course Developers

Melissa Nelson, RN, BSN, Senior Patient Safety Analyst, The Doctors Company

Johanna Lackner, MPH, MSW, Senior Director, Continuing Professional Development, Department of Patient Safety and Risk Management, The Doctors Company

Continuing Education Credit

The Doctors Company is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical educational activities for physicians.
The Doctors Company designates this activity for a maximum of 0.75 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.  Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Complies with State Requirements

Please SEE the Federation of State Medical Boards overview of Continuing Medical Education requirements by State. 

Technical Requirements

The activity is best experienced using the most current browser: Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or Microsoft Edge. Internet Explorer is not supported on this platform. All activities featuring audio must have a speaker. To view graphic images and references that appear in separate "pop-up" windows, JavaScript and session cookies must be enabled on your computer. Adobe Acrobat Reader may be required for certain activities.

Contact Us

If you have questions, contact or call 800.421.2368.


Visit our Resource document for this program.