We are growing for our community

100,000 sq. ft. hospital expansion coming soon

Sepsis: A Medical Emergency

Sepsis: A Medical Emergency

More than 40% of U.S. adults have never heard of sepsis

Sepsis is the body’s overwhelming response to infection, which can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, amputations, and death. When there is an infection, sepsis can occur. Sepsis symptoms start off very subtly and may mimic a flu or virus. It’s important to look for the warning signs of sepsis. Spotting these symptoms early could prevent the body from entering septic shock, and could save a life.

Symptoms include:

  • S – Shiver, 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

Watch for a combination of these symptoms, especially if you recently had a cut, scrape, surgery, or any type of illness or invasive procedure. If you suspect sepsis, see a doctor urgently, call 911, or go to a hospital and say, “I am concerned about sepsis.”

“We are seeing an increased number of sepsis patients come into the Emergency Department and clinics,” said Tammy Gintz, RN, Quality Measures Coordinator at Ozarks Medical Center (OMC). “It can be as simple as someone not seeking treatment for a urinary tract infection, pneumonia, or gastrointestinal infection. If untreated, the infection can send the body into septic shock. Since January 2018 at OMC, there has been an average of 31 cases of sepsis per month.” Pneumonia accounts for about 35 percent of cases, infections of the urinary tract about 25 percent, gastrointestinal infections 11 percent, and skin soft tissue infections at 11 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Sepsis is frequently the result of an infection. By treating an infection seriously, you can decrease the chances of developing sepsis. This means:

  • Taking antibiotics if prescribed
  • Finishing the entire course of antibiotics
  • Don’t take antibiotics or take someone else’s antibiotics needlessly to reduce the chances of developing antibiotic-resistant infections
  • Frequent and thorough hand washing
  • Consult with your doctor about recommended vaccines
  • Get vaccinated for the seasonal flu
  • Cough into your elbow, not your hand (to help prevent spreading infection if you are sick)
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle with nutritious food, exercise, and rest
  • Seek medical help if an illness does not seem to be improving or it is getting worse

While sepsis can affect anyone, it is more likely to affect very young children, older adults, people with chronic diseases, and those with a weakened immune system. However, sepsis is an equal-opportunity killer and can impact people of all ages and levels of health. Mortality from sepsis increases by as much as 8 percent for every hour that treatment is delayed. As many as 80 percent of sepsis deaths could be prevented with rapid diagnosis and treatment. Approximately 6 percent of all hospitalizations are due to sepsis and 35 percent of all deaths in hospitals are due to sepsis.

Remember, Sepsis is a medical emergency. If sepsis is suspected, please do not hesitate to seek medical attention. To learn more, explore the Sepsis Alliance website at www.sepsis.org.

Patient safety and infection prevention is OMC’s top priority. The healthcare system recently received an ‘A’ grade in the Hospital Safety Score from The Leapfrog Group, designating OMC as among the safest hospitals in the United States. The Leapfrog Group is an independent watchdog organization that advocates for quality, safety and transparency in the U.S. healthcare system. The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade uses 30 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to assign A, B, C, D and F grades to more than 2,600 U.S. hospitals twice per year. It is calculated by top patient safety experts, peer-reviewed, fully transparent, and free to the public.

Ozarks Medical Center is a system of care encompassing a 114-bed acute care hospital, eight family medicine clinics and 15 specialty clinics, along with complete rehabilitation and home care services. OMC is a not-for-profit medical referral center with over 1,300 employees, serving an eight-county area in south central Missouri and north central Arkansas.

Related Articles