Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Patty Duke, Sherri Dornberger, RN and Susan Irick, RN remind us of the dangers of sepsis

Sepsis can be deadly. It kills more than 258,000 Americans each year and leaves thousands of survivors with life-changing after-effects. According to CDC, there are over 1 million cases of sepsis each year, and it is the ninth leading cause of disease-related deaths. 

There is no single sign or symptom of sepsis. It is a combination of symptoms resulting from an infection. Symptoms can include fever, diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat, extreme pain, shortness of breath and many other signs and symptoms.

The following three stories show how varied the presentations can be as well as outcomes.

Patty Duke
Oscar-winning actress Patty Duke, star of “The Patty Duke Show” and the play and film “The Miracle Worker,” died of sepsis from a ruptured intestine on March 29, 2016 at the age of 69. 
"Her death announcement is a major milestone for the sepsis awareness movement, said Thomas Heymann, executive director of the Sepsis Alliance. The more people are aware of this condition, Heymann said, the stronger their likelihood of saving their own lives or the lives of their loved ones."
Sherri Dornberger, RN
Sherri Dornberger became a victim of a healthcare-associated infection (HAI), amongst other medical issues, while receiving medical care.

She recounts, "Through a series of unfortunate medical errors, I became the victim of a full-fledged case of sepsis throughout my body that left me in a coma for over a week in Intensive Care.
Having a rich career in long-term care nursing, I quickly became a patient who was helpless to protect myself from further harm.."

"....I know it is imperative to properly use antibiotics to protect the safety of residents cared for across the U.S. in various long-term care settings most notably skilled nursing facilities." 

"Each of us, patients and healthcare providers, plays a unique, yet equally critical role in preventing HAIs and sepsis in addition to reducing the development of antibiotic resistance. I live daily with the long-term effects of low-quality care from a healthcare exposure. It is my professional and personal goal to ensure that all patients across the continuum of care receive the highest quality clinical care possible so others do not suffer the same tragedies that I have endured over the last few years. The National Association of Directors of Nursing Administration in Long Term Care stands alongside the CDC in this fight against superbugs and sepsis."
Susan Irick, RN

Sepsis is a term Susan Irick had heard her entire nursing career. "It never had quantifiable significance to me until the past 3 years. Now, sepsis has become an up close and personal demon that I have thankfully beaten twice. I have been the Disease Manager for Sepsis at Northeast Georgia Medical Center for the past 3 years and I have learned more than I really wanted to know about sepsis."

"My first sepsis story started on Mother’s Day, 2014. I am a diabetic and, at that time, I had to wear an insulin pump. I noticed my pump site was red and hot. I changed the pump site and called my practitioner for an antibiotic. The site became redder and larger. I began having severe dizziness, nausea, cold sweat and confusion. My colleagues took me immediately to the Emergency Room, and the doctor told me I had severe sepsis. I, of all people, did not even comprehend that I had sepsis. I was admitted to the hospital and stayed for 11 days. The wound was cultured and I was found to have MRSA. I received several intravenous antibiotics, blood products and fluids. I had heart failure, anemia and several other related problems. I do not remember most of the time I was in the hospital. It took me about three months to fully recover."

"I am so thankful that I survived my episodes of sepsis. I hope that we, as health professionals, can learn how dangerous this condition can be and ensure that our friends, families, neighbors and patients are aware and not affected by this dangerous killer."

We all play a part. What can you do to help?

With thanks in advance,


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