It’s a killer many of us know little about. It affects more than 1 million people each year, and half don’t survive. It could begin with something as small as a cut in gym class, and warning signs and red flags can be easily missed or misread. If not treated within a couple of hours, consequences are almost always deadly.
What is Sepsis?
Sepsis is your body’s toxic or severe response to an infection. Symptoms include high or low body temperature, fast heart rate and extreme discomfort. The death rate from sepsis is higher than breast cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer combined. And somehow, fewer than half of Americans have even heard the word “sepsis,” according to the Sepsis Alliance.
While it may not be a regular topic at your dinner table, improving sepsis outcomes is a top priority at Memorial Medical Center. Advancements at MMC have saved an estimated 48 lives every year. These outcomes, along with other quality and patient-safety improvements, earned Memorial nationwide recognition as the 2016 American Hospital Association—McKesson Quest for Quality Prize winner.
MMC is the first in Illinois to receive the prize, which recognizes one hospital in the country for a commitment to highly reliable, safe, patient-centered care of exceptional quality. Recognition as a national leader is an incredible honor, but it’s what the award represents that matters. The improvements we’ve made to healthcare aren’t just helping hospitals change lives, they’re helping hospitals save more lives.
Brian’s Story of Survival from Sepsis
This was certainly the case for Brian DeLoche, a 60-year-old retired police and National Guard officer from Beardstown, Illinois. This past March, the energetic grandfather nearly died of sepsis. He shares his story in hopes of raising sepsis awareness and to highlight the importance of high-quality, patient-centered care:
“It was six weeks after cancer surgery, and I told my wife I never felt better. That was at 2 p.m. on a Saturday. At 4 p.m., I was being rushed to Memorial’s Emergency Department in incredible pain thinking I had appendicitis. The nurse noticed my pain level was rising and my vital signs were falling. She took immediate action.
I was sent to the ICU, and 10 minutes later, all my vital signs tanked. The rapid response team came in, and you talk about a whirlwind of activity. After getting situated, the ICU nurse was the first to say the word ‘sepsis’ and identify the problem.
I was an absolute train wreck every couple of hours for the next four days. But I remember everything. One of the doctors was talking to my wife while stroking his chin, and he said, ‘He’s awake, alert, engaged and cracking jokes, but he’s supposed to be unconscious.’ They couldn’t figure it out. But I think it was because of the exceptional care I received. I just don’t have enough words to describe my gratefulness to them for the care and compassion they gave me.
I didn’t have appendicitis. The sepsis probably was a delayed result from the cancer surgery when some produced fluid turned septic. I was one of the lucky ones. I recovered after treatment. The doctors said they weren’t sure I’d survive. I’ve looked at the odds. The fact that I’m alive is a miracle. There are no words to describe how grateful I am. They didn’t just care for me—they cared about me. That makes all the difference.”Enjoy LiveWell Online Magazine? Stay up-to-date with a free email subscription!