Sepsis Deaths Can Be Prevented


Sepsis, a rising health condition in the United States affecting more than 1.7 million people and killing 270,000 annually, is caused by the body’s response to extreme infection. This can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death. The good news is that up to 80% of sepsis deaths can be prevented with rapid diagnosis and treatment. Time is of the essence because for every hour treatment is delayed, the risk of death increases by as much as 8%.

The best way to prevent sepsis is by keeping infections from occurring. Following these four important actions can help, according to Palomar Health Medical Quality Officer David Lee, MD:
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Take care of open wounds
  • When prescribed, take antibiotics as recommended
  • Stay up to date on your vaccinations
If you sense an infection setting in, see a doctor immediately. You can spot some infections, such as those occurring on the skin. Others are internal and more difficult to notice, as they manifest themselves through fever, cough, painful urination and/or generally feeling ill.

According to Dr. Lee, most infections will not progress to Sepsis, but the very young and very old, people who have a compromised immune systems and those with chronic illnesses are the most susceptible.

As part of Sepsis Awareness Month this September, Palomar Health encourages people to take a more proactive approach to fighting Sepsis. This easy-to-remember acronym can help you detect potential symptoms of sepsis (TIME):
  • Temperature – Your body temperature is abnormally high or abnormally low
  • Infection – Signs of an infection
  • Mental decline – You become mentally sluggish or lethargic
  • Extremely ill – You feel very ill
If you are experiencing all four of these symptoms, you should consider Sepsis as a possibility and seek medical attention. If a physician diagnoses you with Sepsis, he or she will initiate proper treatment, which can vary depending on the type of infection causing your Sepsis. It is important to understand that early intervention is the key to good outcomes.

Palomar Health has made the early diagnosis of Sepsis a priority. It is leveraging information technology to alert hospital staff when certain parameters suggestive of Sepsis are met, including abnormal vital signs and lab results. While computers cannot diagnose Sepsis, they can assist staff in catching Sepsis early, before it progresses to something more serious. Healthgrades has rated both Palomar Medical Center Escondido and Palomar Medical Center Poway with five stars out of five for its survival rates of patients treated for Sepsis.

For more information about Sepsis, you can visit the Sepsis Alliance website.


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