FIVE PERSPECTIVES

What everyone should know about sepsis

September marks the one-year anniversary of the Massachusetts Sepsis Consortium, a statewide effort to advance sepsis care and save lives. Next week, the Consortium will launch a public education campaign to increase awareness about sepsis and equip people with the information they need to recognize and respond to sepsis in its early stages, when treatment is most effective.

Patient Safety Beat talked with five individuals who generously shared their experiences as patients or family members of people affected by sepsis, which is responsible annually for more deaths than prostate cancer, breast cancer and AIDS combined. Even when treated successfully, sepsis can cause long-term physical and emotional harm. We asked each of them:

What is the one thing you know now about sepsis that you want everyone to know?

Rory final


Sepsis can strike anyone

“Before Rory died, we had never heard of sepsis. Multiple physicians who examined Rory didn’t think of sepsis even when he was very ill. Everyone needs to be prepared to ask, ‘Could this be sepsis?’”

- Ciaran and Orlaith Staunton’s 12-year-old son, Rory, died five days after he developed sepsis from an infected school-yard scrape.
 [Read more]

Bela final


Sepsis is life-changing

“The effects can last for years and be life changing. I often say, ’I was spared the death penalty, but I was given a life sentence’ and so is every other survivor of sepsis.”

- Bela Maranhas spent 46 days in intensive care and was left with ongoing health challenges.
 [Read more]

Mike final


Family caregivers are crucial partners

“I want family members to understand that they are crucial partners in caregiving. Be tenacious, learn everything you can, participate in care at the hospital, ask questions, work alongside the nurses and advocate for your patient.”

  - Mike Maranhas worked tirelessly as a member of his wife, Bela's, care team and  later wrote a memoir to record the experience.
[Read more]

Gerry final


Know the signs and symptoms

“If I hadn’t talked with the bowling group that night about sepsis, [a friend's wife] might have died or been injured more severely—had an amputation, post-traumatic stress disorder or any of other outcomes some sepsis survivors have to deal with.”

- Gerry Bedard has been raising awareness about sepsis since his wife, Norma's, death.
[Read more]

Kevin final

Sepsis is deceptive

“Because I had a history of back trouble, we all assumed that was the source of my problem. None of us asked, ‘What else could this be?’ Making the extra effort to ask that question might have led one of us to recognize sepsis earlier.”

- Kevin Walsh knew the back pain that started on Friday was more severe than usual; it didn’t occur to him it was caused by sepsis and would send him to the emergency department on Sunday.
 [Read more]

speech-bubble

We want to hear from you!

Email us your feedback and comments: patientsafetybeat@state.ma.us