FRANKLIN — Recent reports from a new study in The Lancet place the cause of 20 percent of deaths worldwide due to sepsis, twice the number previously estimated.
Many people know sepsis by its former name blood poisoning. The name sepsis comes from the chain reaction of immune response throughout the body after a localized infection.
A sepsis infection begins with a localized infection somewhere the body. This could be a bladder or kidney infection, pneumonia, or a small cut that becomes infected. Unlike a regular infection, where the body targets only the infected area, sepsis is when the body produces a strong immune system response and attacks its own cells. The immune system sends chemicals into the blood to combat the infection, and the chemicals trigger inflammation throughout the body. The inflammation causes blood clots, leaky blood vessels, and circulatory difficulties that deprive the organs of nutrients and oxygen, leading to organ damage or failure. This leads to septic shock and even death. Sepsis.org notes the survival rate for patients with severe sepsis drops eight percent each hour a person does not receive timely treatment.
Kristin Jordan, manager of quality, education, compliance and private duty at Franklin VNA & Hospice, said, “Educating yourself and your loved ones on what to look for is critical, and so is feeling authorized to ask your healthcare providers, ‘Do you think this could be sepsis?’”
Franklin VNA & Hospice developed an information sheet for patients at risk for sepsis. The easy-to-read zone tool helps patients watch for common signs of sepsis, like fever, shaking chills, confusion, racing heart, and not producing much urine. The goal is to stay in the green zone with no symptoms, rather than the yellow or red zones with symptoms that need attention.
“We want to empower and educate our patients in the signs of sepsis. Sepsis can develop quickly, and we want them to be able to recognize the signs early and know what they should do,” Jordan said.
Early recognition is critical, as even those who survive sepsis are often left with serious health conditions. Sepsis.org indicates one third of all sepsis survivors are re-hospitalized within three months of their initial infection. There are an average of 38 amputations daily in the U.S. as a result of sepsis, and 60 percent are left with worsened mental or physical function.
“Ensure that your care team is familiar with signs and symptoms of sepsis and that you are too,” said Jordan. “Early recognition and treatment are key to a full recovery.”
For more information, call Franklin VNA & Hospice at 603-934-3454, or visit FranklinVNA.org.