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Selected Category: Healthcare-associated infections

Coming Out of “Deafening Silence” to Fight Sepsis Together

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

What severe sepsis needs is the equivalent of an American Heart Association. An organization that exists to teach the general public, as well as physicians, how to save lives. Thanks, in large part, to the heart association, Americans are well versed in the symptoms of heart attack. Pick up the phone and call your mother (this assumes that your mother is not a doc, which is not a 100% safe assumption, but is more likely to be true than not). Ask her what causes heart attacks. There is a high likelihood that she understands that heart attacks stem from acute occlusion of a coronary artery. She can probably tell you that the symptoms include pain in the chest, jaw, and shoulder and that there are clot busting drugs to help, if you get to the hospital quickly. More than likely, she also recognizes some of the major risk factors, including cholesterol, hypertension, and – one hopes – smoking.

Now ask her about sepsis, and listen to the deafening silence on the other end of the phone line. Severe sepsis is the stealth killer; it kills between 30% and 50% of people who develop it, and it is one of the most common causes of death in the US, although the deaths are often attributed to underlying diseases, such as COPD or cancer. There are no public service announcements about sepsis. One does not find the signs or symptoms in the lay press. Only the occasional nightmare story about a young person in whom the diagnosis of severe sepsis was missed and who died as a result. The sad thing is that this happens much more frequently than the reports in the papers show up. Worse yet, physicians remain, in large part, oblivious to the simple approach to infected patients that would prevent many of the deaths. Worst of all, every family has been touched by severe sepsis in one way or another, but they mostly do not know it, because none of the doctors called it that, only “severe pneumonia,” “kidney infection,” “peritonitis.”

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.

Read more of the original post

 

 

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.

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