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Sat, Sep 15, 2018 at 02:00 PM

Sepsis is common and deadly – learning the signs can save a life

Time is critical when it comes to preventing death from sepsis - know the TIME test and get treatment fast.

Every two minutes someone in the U.S. dies from sepsis, but most people have never heard of it and have no idea what it is. That’s scary. That’s also the reason September is Sepsis Awareness Month. People need to be educated on the symptoms of sepsis so they know when to get life-saving care. 

Sepsis is the body’s severe response to an infection such as pneumonia or influenza. The immune system, which is supposed to fight off the infection, goes into overdrive and begins to attack the body. If not recognized and treated quickly, sepsis can lead to death. The number one killer of hospitalized patients in the U.S. is sepsis.

“Prompt recognition and treatment of sepsis is the key to survival,” said Dr. Randy Stewart, leader of Marshall Medical’s Process Improvement Team. “Marshall Health System is involved in the nationwide Surviving Sepsis Campaign and is well above the national average among hospitals in sepsis management.”

The Process Improvement Team at Marshall Medical works to improve the care of sepsis patients which will result in improved patient outcomes and decreased mortality.  

Know the TIME test, save a life

Sepsis is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Early detection provides the best chance for survival and recovery. To make detection easier, the Sepsis Alliance came up with a helpful acronym listing the signs. It’s known as TIME.
T – Temperature is higher or lower than usual
I – Infection – may have signs and symptoms of an infection
M – Mental decline – the person may be confused, sleepy and difficult to rouse
E – Extremely ill – severe pain or discomfort

Sometimes incorrectly called blood poisoning, sepsis is the body’s often deadly response to infection. Sepsis and septic shock can result from an infection anywhere in the body, even a urinary tract infection. Worldwide, one-third of people who develop sepsis die. Many who do survive are left with life-changing effects, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain and fatigue organ dysfunction (organs don’t work properly) and/or amputations.

Prevention includes taking antibiotics if prescribed and getting a flu shot every year. In addition to getting vaccinated, people are urged to prevent infections that could lead to sepsis by cleaning scrapes and wounds and by practicing good hygiene like bathing regularly. Also, if you have an infection, look for signs like fever, chills, rapid breathing and heart rate, rash, confusion and disorientation. 

EMS personnel are being trained to recognize and treat sepsis patients before they get to the emergency room. As many as 80% of sepsis deaths could be prevented with rapid diagnosis and treatment. In addition, in one recent study, sepsis patients had a lower mortality rate when they were treated by EMS personnel that received sepsis-specific training.

Learn more at the Sepsis Alliance at, and if you believe the TIME test above describes your situation learn more about Marshall Medical ER services here: