Treating patients with sepsis is challenging enough without confusion about which protocol to use or whether you are following it correctly. Clinicians depend on clarity as they care for critically ill patients. When guidelines are replaced or revised, those changes need to be incorporated into their workflows. Those decisions, however, aren’t always made with awareness of the work required to implement them, by people further down the food chain.
Years ago, I was working on an oncology unit when I picked up a nosocomial infection which morphed into sepsis. Halfway through a twelve-hour shift, I dropped to my knees and couldn’t walk. My blood pressure was dropping, I had chills and was shaking uncontrollably. My temperature was 104.3F, which made my head feel like it was going to explode. Luckily, I made it to the emergency room (with help from some coworkers and a shaking wheelchair).
We may be living in an era of medical miracles, but when it comes to sepsis, we’ve got a long way to go. It’s the most expensive condition in the U.S. healthcare system, with a human and financial cost that’s mind-boggling to me.