Amputations can cause sepsis, and sepsis can cause amputations, Steven Q. Simpson, MD, FCCP, FACP, of the Sepsis Alliance and of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care at the University of Kansas, said during the Sepsis and Limb Loss: Awareness and Prevention webinar. The webinar was hosted by the Amputee Coalition.
“If you go into an [intensive care unit] ICU in the United States for any reason, whether it is postop after your surgery or [for] an exacerbation of chronic lung disease, it does not matter. The most common thing leading to you not coming out of there alive is sepsis.”
Sepsis, a complication of infection, is caused when chemicals released by the body to fight an infection trigger inflammatory responses throughout the body. According to Simpson, 1.5 million to 3 million cases of sepsis are diagnosed annually in the United States, and someone in the United States dies from sepsis every 3 minutes to 4 minutes. In-hospital mortality among patients with sepsis is 300% more than those with myocardial infarction, he added.
Baby boomers are at the greatest risk for sepsis, according to Simpson. Clinicians should look for symptoms such as rapid heart and respiratory rates, high or low white blood cell counts, confusion, low blood pressure, low oxygenation and low urine output.
When counseling patients on how to recognize sepsis, Simpson said they should look for shivering fever or cold, pale or discolored skin, sleepiness and shortness of breath.
“Sepsis is time-sensitive. It is an emergency,” Simpson said. We need to leap on it like we would when someone says their chest is hurting or if they have facial droop.”
: Simpson reports no relevant financial disclosures.