Save a Life: Know the Scoop on Sepsis

Sepsis, sometimes incorrectly called “blood poisoning” is the body’s overwhelming, and often deadly, response to infection. Sepsis can result from an infection anywhere in the body, including the lungs, skin and urinary tract.
 
Sepsis affects more than 1.6 million people in the United States annually – one every 20 seconds. Worldwide, one-third of people who develop sepsis die. Those who survive are often left with life-changing effects from chronic pain, organ dysfunction and/or amputations. Sepsis kills 258,000 per year; all ages affected. 

Each year health care costs associated with treating sepsis is estimated around $20 billion dollars. Scenic Mountain Medical Center (SMMC) has initiated a sepsis awareness campaign which includes the development of policies that are in line with other hospitals, such as John Hopkins and other leading hospitals in the country, to be a leader in the region. In the midst of influenza having a strong presence this year, SMMC is proud to report there have been no deaths associated with the flu this year as we are working diligently in diagnosing and fighting infection. 
 
Sepsis can be caused by any type of infection: viral, bacterial, fungal or parasitic. Many infections can be prevented by hygiene measures, such as good handwashing, routine vaccinations and prompt treatment of minor infections, such as infected cuts and insect bites. 
 
As many as 80 percent of sepsis deaths can be prevented with quick diagnosis and treatment. Anyone can develop sepsis, although people with a weakened immune system or multiple health problems are at a higher risk. Faces of sepsis affected can include infants, a healthy middle age individual to our grandparents. Severe forms can lead to septic shock. 
 
Know the signs of sepsis: 

S – Shivering, fever or very cold

E – Extreme pain or general discomfort

P – Pale or discolored skin

S – Sleepy, difficult to rouse 

I – “I feel like I might die.”

S – Shortness of Breath

If sepsis is suspected, patients are encouraged to seek medical care immediately by calling 9-1-1 or going to your nearest hospital.
 
SMMC has made sepsis awareness a priority and is striving for a higher level of quality care aimed at detecting and fighting sepsis. In addition to the advances in the emergency department, we will initiate a program to upgrade the care and technology of the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) focused on sepsis. The Wound Care Center, another recently added service line, was initiated to treat wounds with the latest medicines, procedures of the specialty and through the use of hyperbaric oxygen chambers to provide better outcomes and a higher quality of care. This is an opportunity for more patients to receive great care at SMMC. 

In the fall SMMC will observe a sepsis awareness week. Raising awareness in the community is the focus and we ask that residents be on the lookout for more information and the red ribbon, which symbolizes sepsis awareness. 

Dr. Brian Nelson, is part of the medical staff at Scenic Mountain Medical Center. He serves as a full-time emergency medicine doctor in the SMMC Emergency Department. He brings 10 years of emergency medicine experience. Dr. Nelson trained at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is a native Texas and Big Spring resident. 

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