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Executive Order Issued On One of the Most Urgent Health Concerns Facing Us Today

Categories: Antimicrobial Resistance, Healthcare-associated infections

Plates of plates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in CDC’s healthcare-associated infections laboratory.

Plates of plates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in CDC’s healthcare-associated infections laboratory.

National Strategy to Combat Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

The announcement Thursday morning of the President’s Executive Order and the National Strategy to Combat Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria marks the administration’s response to one of the most urgent health threats facing us today – antibiotic resistance.

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A Family’s Perspective – “The Brutality of Sepsis will Haunt Us for the Rest of Our Lives”

Categories: Healthcare-associated infections, Sepsis

Franchot Karl

Franchot Karl

Guest Author: Franchot Karl

Sepsis. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. It’s one of the leading causes of death, particularly in hospitals, but most people have never heard of it. My sister and I had barely heard of it, until we lost our beloved mother because of it two years ago. The brutality of sepsis will haunt us for the rest of our lives.

When our grandmother died of sepsis at 84 years old, back in 1990, I assumed it was an old people’s disease. I thought you get old, go into a hospital or nursing home, get the inevitable hospital infection (sepsis) and die. After all, hospitals and nursing homes are crawling with germs, right?

Well fast forward to now, millions of deaths and many medical negligence cases later, the real truth is coming to light. I debate sepsis is an actual disease. Unlike heart disease, diabetes or cancer, sepsis is usually the result of something else, like a cut or scrape, surgeries or invasive devices. We are all at risk. Sepsis is a dire emergency that can kill the young or the old. It does not discriminate.

In early 2012, mama had a blood clot surgically removed from the femoral artery. She seemed to recover well, but the wound incision leaked nonstop. Soon she complained of extreme weakness, had sporadic fevers and could not urinate. It wasn’t long before she was fighting for her life in a city hospital. After one week of hospitalization, a large, grotesque abscess was found at the surgical site on her left groin. Incision and drainage was done; it was all that was done. At mama’s death on May 9, 2012, her left groin, lower left torso and thigh were eaten away. Her underlying flesh and muscle were exposed. It was a brutal death for such a beautiful person.

The Need for Sepsis Awareness: A Survivor’s Perspective

Categories: Healthcare-associated infections, Sepsis

Dana Mirman

Dana Mirman

Guest Author: Dana Mirman

In December 2011, a lack of awareness of sepsis – a disease responsible for more American deaths each year than breast cancer, prostate cancer, and AIDS combined – nearly cost me my life.

It all began with a little bump on my shoulder one afternoon. When it all began, I did not know that within 24 hours, that small bump would develop into life-threatening septic shock and soon I would find myself in the ICU.

The seemingly insignificant little bump became swollen and I developed symptoms that felt like the worst flu of my life. When my husband had discovered my temperature was over 104 degrees, he had rushed me to the emergency room, just on a hunch that this was not an ordinary “flu.”  

He had never heard of sepsis, and I had heard the word, but thought it was a rare, largely obsolete disease. I had no idea of the symptoms and certainly no idea it could be happening to me.

When I arrived at the hospital, I was the sickest I had ever been in my life.  My temperature was soaring, my blood pressure was falling, and my arm was in excruciating pain. I soon learned the bump on my arm actually was a skin infection, which had led to cellulitis.

A Doctor’s Perspective – Uncovering Why Some Doctors Don’t Understand Sepsis

Categories: Healthcare-associated infections, Sepsis

Steven Q. Simpson, MD

Steven Q. Simpson, MD

Guest Author: Steven Q. Simpson, MD
University of Kansas and Sepsis Alliance

I am one of the newest members of the board of directors of Sepsis Alliance.  If you haven’t heard of Sepsis Alliance, it is a non-profit organization whose aim is to heighten awareness of severe sepsis as an emergency among the general public and among health care providers (www.sepsisalliance.org).  I joined this movement, because the need is strident.  Severe sepsis is the secret killer.  Even though its historical mortality rate is as high as 50%, it is under recognized as a cause of death.  For example, we know that cancer is a leading cause of death in the US, and we spend billions of dollars on cancer research to find preventions and cures.  Yet, what is the single largest cause of death among cancer patients?  It is listed as infection, at 48% of cancer deaths, but it is not the infection, per se, that kills.  It is the severe sepsis engendered by the infection.  And most of those deaths are logged as cancer deaths.

A large part of my own career has centered on teaching physicians, both young and old, how to recognize when they are looking at severe sepsis and how to respond quickly and aggressively.  We have substantial data from numerous trials, observational studies, and quality improvement studies that interventions can be relatively simple, consisting of antibiotics and fluids.  But only when the condition is recognized early and the treatments are given rapidly.   When there are delays, severe sepsis can rapidly become septic shock, with substantially higher risk of death.  You might think that this would be an easy sell for physicians who, after all, are there to save lives.  But you would be wrong in many cases.

A Mother’s Account: “If We Had Known About Sepsis, We Would Have Looked for Sepsis”

Categories: Healthcare-associated infections, Sepsis

Rory Staunton

Rory Staunton

Guest Author: Orlaith Staunton
Co-Founder of The Rory Staunton Foundation

Our son Rory Staunton, 12 years old, died on Sunday, April 01, 2012 from undiagnosed sepsis.

A few days earlier Rory fell playing basketball and scraped his arm. Rory began to feel ill just past midnight a day and a half after the fall. His dad and I brought him to our pediatrician. Rory was vomiting, feverish, with a pain in his leg, mottled skin, and low blood pressure. The pediatrician did not share his vital signs with us but assured us there was nothing to worry about – gave him a diagnosis of gastric flu and said he needed to be rehydrated. She sent him to a major New York hospital for rehydration. At the hospital, they concurred with the mistaken diagnosis. They gave him IV fluids, took blood tests, said to give him Tylenol and sent Rory home. Later black marks began appearing all over his body and we rushed our son back to the hospital where he died in ICU on Sunday evening. The cause of death was severe septic shock brought on by infection, hospital records say. The blood test taken at the ER remained unread; it showed massive numbers of immature white blood cells in his system-a known sepsis indicator.

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