ThedaCare Health Matters

Sepsis deadly if not caught in time Without treatment, infection can overwhelm patient’s body I recently read an interesting account of the assassination attempt and eventual death of James Garfield, our 20th president. He was shot at close range by an assassin, but he didn’t die from the gun shot. The book explains that because of the lack of knowledge of infections in the late 1800s, he died of overwhelming sepsis almost 2 1/2 months after he was shot. Despite the advances in knowledge and medical practice up to this time, there are still deaths due to sepsis. It is reported that about 250,000 people in the U.S. die of sepsis every year. Of people who die in the hospital, 1 out of 3 dies of sepsis. Sepsis is a medical syndrome that results from overwhelming infection. It is most commonly the result of a bacterial infection that gets into the bloodstream, but can be a viral or fungal infection.  The most common sites of infection from most frequent to least are lung (pneumonia), kidney (urinary tract), abdomen and skin. There are chemicals released into the bloodstream in response to infection that trigger inflammatory responses throughout the body causing damage to multiple organ systems. This can lead to organ system failure.

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