September is Sepsis Awareness Month both at the state and national levels. The CDC said sepsis killed over 200,000 people in the United States in 2019.

What starts as an infection can turn into sepsis. The CDC reports that sepsis is the body’s extreme response to an infection. Haylee Peterpaul, the sepsis coordinator at CCMH, said it’s something doctors and nurses see at Comanche County Memorial Hospital frequently.

“It’s actually one of our leading diagnoses that we see,” she said. “We see probably 20 or 30 patients that can suffer from variations of sepsis in a day. It’s very prominent in our community.”

She said it’s the leading cause of death in hospitals.

“So it’s a really big impact on everyone,” she said. “And, it can progress really rapidly. So it can start as something small and quickly get people into a life and death situation.”

Multiple things can cause it, like an infected wound, cough, or pneumonia. Sepsis starts small but can spread into the body.

“And, then it becomes a toxic response and becomes overwhelming, and that’s when people start getting sick quickly,” Peterpaul said.

She said one of the major problems is people put off going to the doctor, thinking they’ll get better, but then get really sick. Knowing the acronym TIME can help you know when to seek medical treatment for possible sepsis.

“Temperature,” Peterpaul said, “they might have fever chills. Infection, so typically, people might have a complaint of a cough or a wound that won’t heal, and then a lot of people start to have a mental decline. So, they’re starting to get really sleepy, they might get confused, and the last one is extreme illness. So, these people aren’t feeling good, and they feel sick, and they’re not getting better.”

Peterpaul said for a long time, people just thought it was a vague infection or an in the blood, but it’s actually more than that.

“We’re really trying to draw awareness to if you have a concern, please be seen,” she said. “It’s so much easier to treat in the early stages versus waiting until you’re actually in a septic shock and trying to heal people that way.”

Peterpaul said they screen patients for sepsis as soon as they come to the hospital, so it can be caught as quickly as possible.

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