Campaign underway to raise sepsis awareness

April 12, 2016 06:36 PM

Sepsis claimed the life of actress Patty Duke earlier this month.

It's a condition that affects more than a million Americans every year, killing more than 250,000 people.

Now, there's an awareness campaign with the aim of saving lives.

Rose Ann Koreman died back in 2008 from sepsis. She was only 68-years-old. Sandra Kahlon, one of Rose Ann's seven children, says her mom was about to be released from the hospital following another medical issue when sepsis developed.

"I didn't understand it was a whole separate problem, and you have an infection but then the sepsis is something different than just the infection. So I'm just letting people know what to look for," Kahlon explained.

Now she does, since attending a sepsis awareness program at her workplace.

To help save lives she's joining forces with doctors, like infectious disease specialist, Dr. Alan Sanders, who are involved in a national effort to make us all more aware of this killer.

"Overwhelmingly deadly. The most innocuous infections sometimes can lead to sepsis then septic shock," Dr. Sanders noted.

Sepsis is caused by your body's response to an infection, generally a bacterial infection.

Instead of your immune system protecting you, it goes into overdrive and a cascade of trouble ensues.

Blood pressure drops. So does urine output. Patients become confused. They may have fever and chills, even while on an antibiotic. Organs begin shutting down.

Lifesaving treatment has to be immediately started.

"Appropriate and high volumes of fluid need to be given intravenously to sustain their blood pressure. Antibiotics in the first couple of hours after presentation. Looking for sources of infection. That is sampling the blood stream for bacteria, sampling the urine for bacteria," noted Sanders.

Older people, babies and those with compromised immune systems are most at risk. Something as simple as a urinary tract infection can trigger sepsis.

"The majority of the folks come in from the outside, either from a nursing home because they're debilitated or just coming from home and they have some underlying conditions that leads them to being admitted with an infection," pointed out Sanders.

He says if you suspect sepsis don't waste time getting treatment. That’s something Kahlon wishes she'd known eight years ago. It might have spared her mother's life.

"That you know your family member best. If something is off to not let up until it's addressed," Kahlon advised.

More information:

Sepsis Alliance


Benita Zahn

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