Make your home page

Health Spotlight: Nurse helps save patient from sepsis

Health Spotlight: Nurse helps save patient from sepsis

(WISH) — Sepsis causes 1 in 5 deaths globally, the World Health Organization says, and the smallest of cuts can lead to a life-threatening medical emergency.

One nursing program saved a woman from the potentially deadly infection.

Each year, about 1.7 million adults in the United States develop sepsis, and it kills approximately 350,000. Diagnosis is key for preventing organ failure and even death.

However, with early symptoms mimicking the flu and COVID-19, there can often be a delay in seeking care. Warning signs of sepsis include fever, chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, nausea and vomiting.

A Seattle hospital found a solution to save quite a few high-risk patients.

Agnes Tabisula is not taking anything for granted these days. She says she is one of the lucky ones who survived sepsis thanks to having a dedicated nurse in her corner. “She’s not my family or she’s not even related to me but she cares.”

Jelaine Boyce, a registered nurse who is care manager at Valley Medical Center in Renton, Washington, said, “It was just a scary time for her and I know she didn’t want to burden her family.”

Shortly after moving from Hawaii to Seattle, Tabisula was admitted to the hospital for a series of worsening conditions including a cardiac stent, a foot infection, and a kidney abscess.

Hamy Dinh, manager of care management at Valley Medical Center, said “She was a pretty complex case. She had five hospital admissions within the last two months.”

That’s why Valley Medical Center decided to closely monitor Tabisula remotely through their post-discharge program. Boyce phoned her 15 times about her condition. “… She would be honest with me. If I didn’t encourage her to get evaluated, she would have gotten sicker. She would have stayed at home.”

Eventually, doctors diagnosed that she had sepsis. It is the body’s toxic response to a viral or bacterial infection. Sepsis can cause organ damage or failure.

Boyce said, “The worst-case scenario for sepsis would be death. It can start by anything, you know, a little cut in the toe and it just worsens.”

Fortunately, Tabisula’s sepsis was resolved with fluids and antibiotics.

This story was created from a script aired on WISH-TV. Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network.