The Dangers of Sepsis: April 11, 2019

It can happen to anyone. “Nationally, about 50 percent of all deaths in a hospital are sepsis-related. When you look at the admission rate for sepsis it’s actually more than heart attack and stroke combined,” explained Dr. Kenneth Tolep, ICU medical director at HealthPark Medical Center.

Which is why health experts at Lee Health are working together to recognize and treat sepsis. “One of the biggest things we can do to decrease the mortality of sepsis is number one, recognition. So with that recognition, an alert is happening, and we have a group of people coming to the bedside and really giving this patient the best chance for survival,” he said.

Sepsis is a life-threatening complication that can start from an infection. “Sepsis happens when a patient has an infection, and our body’s immune system, which is designed to fight the infection leads to some abnormal and adverse consequences,” Dr. Tolep said.

Sepsis can present differently with vague symptoms, making it challenging to diagnose. Things like coughing, confusion, shortness of breath, even shutting down of bodily functions can all be signs of sepsis.

“In terms of prevention in the hospital setting, there are some committees that are working daily, that involves infection prevention specialists, nursing leaders, doctors at all levels trying to make sure that patients don’t develop any infections in the hospital,” said Dr. Tolep.

Education, early recognition and immediately starting the patient on antibiotics have proven to save lives. “We’ve seen a steady decline in mortality in the years that we’ve taken on the sepsis project,” he said.

A project that’s greatly improved medical response and patient outcomes.