Documentation Tip of the Week: Bacteremia v. Septicemia

Posted on Wed, Nov 18, 2015
Documentation Tip of the Week: Bacteremia v. Septicemia

Choose words carefully to capture the true Severity of Illness (SOI) for your patient:

  • No SOI: Positive Blood Cultures
  • Moderate SOI: Bacteremia
  • High SOI: Septicemia
Did You Know?

Bacteremia can occur transiently when your dentist cleans your teeth. It is a lab finding. Septicemia demonstrates and supports high severity of illness for your patients. If your patient requires hospitalization and IV antibiotics please consider using the term SEPTICEMIA.

Remember hospital documentation can include “possible, probable or suspected” diagnoses.

Dr. Timothy Brundage is a hospitalist for EmCare at St. Petersburg General Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla. Dr. Brundage earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and molecular biology at the University of Michigan, his M.D. at the Wayne State University School of Medicine and completed his residency in internal medicine at the University of South Florida College of Medicine. Subscribe to Dr. Brundage’s weekly documentation tips, or ask him about specific documentation issues, by emailing him at

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