Contact: Beverly Volpe
Patient Safety Authority PR Representative
Is it COVID, the Flu or Something Far Deadlier?
Patient Safety Authority warns “Don't miss sepsis"
Harrisburg, PA -- September 17, 2020 -- With a combined COVID-19/ flu season approaching, the Patient Safety Authority (PSA) is warning Pennsylvanians about another, even deadlier condition. It's sepsis—a life-threating syndrome that starts with an infection. Symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath, and fatigue often mimic those of COVID-19 and the flu. In 2017, sepsis took the lives of more than 2,400 Pennsylvanians, including babies, children, and healthy adults.
"Sepsis is difficult to detect, and you can go from healthy to gravely ill in a few hours or days," explains Regina Hoffman, PSA executive director. “Every minute to diagnosis and treatment counts."
PSA experts say that mental confusion, clammy skin, a racing heart, and a feeling "like you're going to die" are sepsis' telltale signs.
"September is Sepsis Awareness Month, so we are asking everyone to heed the advice of our campaign: Don't miss sepsis. Call your doctor if you have symptoms."
Phoenixville's Koretta Kidd McGhee experienced every parent's worst nightmare. Twelve days after her third child was born, her preschooler was in a medically-induced coma from sepsis, which had started with the flu. “He had to learn how to walk, talk and eat again. It was devastating."
Sepsis changed the life of Akron's Connie Lapp—a double amputee because of her experience. "I remember thinking, 'It's the flu. I'll be better soon.'" Forty-eight hours later she was unresponsive. “Sepsis affects your brain. I had no idea how sick I was," she says.
For Russ DiGilio, founder and CEO of Mechanicsburg-based Duck Donuts Franchising, sepsis started with a fall during a basketball game. His ordeal involved emergency surgery on his elbow and six weeks of intravenous antibiotics. “Who knows what would have been if I had waited to seek treatment? I didn't realize how deadly sepsis could be."
Diana Kane, MD, chair and medical director of Emergency Medicine at Chester County Hospital, ignored symptoms of an infection so she could care for patients. Her dangerous experience had a nine-week recovery. “It's important to know your own body and take action, especially now, when it could be a lot of things. When in doubt, don't wait and guess if it will get worse. Call your doctor or go to the emergency room."