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LMHS Joins Initiative to Prevent Sepsis Deaths

Many individuals do not know much about sepsis, even though it is the ninth leading cause of disease-related death in the United States. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 1 million cases of sepsis occur each year in the U.S., and up to one-half of the individuals who develop sepsis will die from the condition. It has been estimated that 38 Ohioans die from sepsis every day. Licking Memorial Health Systems (LMHS) has joined in the efforts of the Ohio Hospital Association’s Institute for Health Innovation and the Sepsis Alliance to sharply reduce the number of sepsis-related deaths by 30 percent within the next two years.

Sepsis is a body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to an initial infection of microbes that can be bacterial, viral or fungal. The first infection may occur any place on the body – internally or externally. The initial infection also may be serious, such as pneumonia or meningitis, or it may result from a minor issue, such as a finger cut or a case of the flu.

Individuals who are sick and notice their condition worsening rather than improving over the course of several days should consult a physician to be evaluated for the possibility of sepsis. At first, the condition can mimic other diseases with its variety of symptoms, including fever, shivering/feeling cold, pain, rapid heartbeat, nausea, pale skin, confusion, sleeping difficulty or shortness of breath. As the disease progresses into severe sepsis, the symptoms worsen and the body’s organs begin to function abnormally. Emergency medical attention is necessary at that point to save the patient’s life.

Sepsis can occur at any age. Those who are most at-risk include:

  • Individuals with weakened immune systems
  • Infants and very young children
  • Elderly adults
  • Individuals with chronic conditions,such as diabetes, AIDS, cancer, kidney disease or liver disease

LMHS Vice President Medical Affairs Craig Cairns, M.D., M.P.H., said the Licking Memorial Hospital Medical Staff has renewed its scrutiny of potential sepsis cases. "In many cases, sepsis is difficult to diagnosis because there are so many variables to consider. A patient may not know of any precipitating infections, or may not exhibit severe symptoms. However, through the new initiative by the Ohio Hospital Association and the Sepsis Alliance, we have a new algorithm that allows us to sort through the maze of symptoms and test results in order to achieve a successful diagnosis and effective treatment."

Hospitalization, intravenous fluids and broad-spectrum antibiotics are often the first step in treating sepsis. The physician may order CT scans and blood work in an effort to identify the source and type of infection, but in many cases, the precise cause is never identified. Treatment also will be given to prevent the patient’s blood pressure from falling too low and to address any organ failures that may develop.

| Posted On : 12/21/2015 1:38:44 PM Filed under: