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During Sepsis Awareness Month, Lake Regional Encourages Public to Suspect Sepsis, Save Lives

Friday, September 8, 2017

Every two minutes someone dies from sepsis in the United States. That's more than from prostate cancer, breast cancer and AIDS combined.

This Sepsis Awareness Month, Lake Regional Health System is joining the Sepsis Alliance in raising awareness about sepsis to save lives.

"Treating sepsis early is essential to avoiding life-threatening complications," said Angela Humphreys, R.N., Lake Regional quality improvement specialist. "Most sepsis cases begin in the community, not in hospitals. That means people need to be aware of the signs of sepsis so they will seek treatment early, when good outcomes are most likely."

What is Sepsis?

Sometimes called blood poisoning, sepsis can begin with any type of infection, anywhere in the body. It occurs when the body mounts an overwhelming immune response that causes inflammation of blood vessels. This inflammation leads to the formation of small blood clots, which can cause tissue damage, organ failure and death.

What are the Signs?

Recognizing sepsis in the early stages can be difficult because it mimics many other conditions. If you develop a combination of the following symptoms, call 911 or go to a hospital and say, "I'm concerned about sepsis." Be especially diligent if you recently had an open wound (cut, scrape, bug bite), surgery, some type of invasive procedure or infection.

S - Shivering, fever or very cold

E - Extreme pain or general discomfort ("worst ever")

P - Pale or discolored skin

S - Sleepy, difficult to rouse, confused

I - "I feel like I might die."

S - Short of breath

How Is Sepsis Treated?

In the earliest stages, most sepsis cases can be treated easily, with broad-spectrum antibiotics and IV fluids. If sepsis progresses to severe sepsis or septic shock, more aggressive treatments and supports will be needed, and the risk of lasting consequences increases.

To catch and treat sepsis early, Lake Regional follows a specific sepsis protocol. Actions include educating staff about the various levels of sepsis and the required care for each level; using a sepsis screening tool in the Emergency Department to catch sepsis as early as possible; collecting data to measure the hospital's success in implementing national sepsis care guidelines; and educating patients and the public about the signs of sepsis.

"Sepsis is always a medical emergency," Humphreys said. "The sooner it's recognized and treatment begins, the easier sepsis is to control. At Lake Regional, we encourage our staff and our community to suspect sepsis and save lives."

Lake Regional Health System provides comprehensive health care services to the residents and visitors of the lake region. The hospital is accredited by The Joint Commission and is a three-time recipient of the Missouri Quality Award. Lake Regional Health System also operates primary care, Express Care, specialty care and rehab therapy clinics, retail pharmacies and home health services throughout the lake area.

Watch a Video about Sepsis

Despite the high death toll from sepsis in the United States, 42 percent of Americans do not know the word. The below video from the Sepsis Alliance provides critical information about recognizing and treating sepsis, and shares the story of a sepsis survivor.