MedWatch: Sepsis Awareness Month

It’s not cancer, not a heart attack or stroke, but sepsis that is the leading killer of patients in hospitals in the U.S.

The reaction to infection or injury affects 26 million people worldwide every year.

That’s why September is Sepsis Awareness Month and hospitals across the country, including Munson Medical Center, are doing what they can to keep patients healthy.

Michelle Dunaway shows us how in this month’s MedWatch.

81-year-old Jerry Lesney spent 35 years serving his country in the U.S. Air Force, but it was illness that almost took him out.

“I had really bad chills, so I put on a sweater and stuff and I went to bed, and I had about three blankets on and I was shaking like crazy,” said Jerry.

Jerry listened to his body and got to the doctor.

“They took all my vitals and he said, ‘Now take him to Munson emergency,” said Jerry.

It’s a decision that likely saved his life. 

“Within 1-15 minutes I had an IV in and had an IV in my neck. I was seven days in the hospital,” said Jerry.

Jerry had sepsis.

“Sepsis is, in a sense, an infection that sets off a chain reaction in the body that no longer helps us fight the infection, it begins to work against us. So somebody who develops sepsis not only has an infection, but it begins to adversely affect them,” explains Dr. John Krcmarik, M.D.

Dr. Krcmarik is the medical director of the Sepsis Initiative at Munson Medical Center, a program started out of sheer need.

“Sepsis is, unfortunately, not uncommon. The incidence is well over a million and a half people in our country. We see it locally, there’s been an international effort because of how common it is and how deadly it can be, that it is probably the most common killer of people in a hospital setting,” said Dr. Krcmarik.

Certain people are more susceptible to getting sepsis, like the very young, or the immunocompromised.

Diabetics and those over 65 are also more at risk, like Jerry, but no one is immune.

“In general, the earlier you identify an infection the better, because infection can begin as just that, a localized infection. But it if goes on long enough untreated, people, anybody can develop sepsis,” explained Dr. Krcmarik.

That’s why Munson Medical Center and other hospitals across the country are taking steps to hopefully cut down on the number of patients getting sick.

“Things like removing unnecessary lines that are no longer needed to reduce the colonization of bacteria, handwashing, mask use so we’re not spreading germs from room to room or location to location. There’s actually all sorts of interventions that we take to reduce that kind of transmission,” said Dr. Krcmarik.

Today Jerry is feeling himself again, and he has advice to others who might be experiencing the same kinds of symptoms.

“If you think you’re going to fight it yourself, this disease takes over and you better get some help, and I mean fast. It’s not like days you’re going to beat something, you’re not going to beat it,” warns Jerry.

Categories: MedWatch