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Sepsis is a dangerous condition that can occur when an infection leads to tissue damage, organ failure or even death. In Hobart, St. Mary Medical Center has attained a new milestone in the battle against this potentially deadly illness.

According to newly released data, St. Mary Medical Center now ranks in the top 10 percent of hospitals nationwide for successful compliance with the standard of care for severe sepsis patients. This data is reported to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and is publicly reported on Hospital Compare to grade quality of care.

“The latest publicly reported data on sepsis protocol confirms that St. Mary Medical Center continues to identify and successfully treat sepsis patients in the communities we serve,” St. Mary Medical Center CEO Janice Ryba stated. “St. Mary Medical Center places a high priority on sepsis education for the community and our hospital staff. Many people are not aware that sepsis is a serious and life-threatening condition — every two seconds someone in the U.S. gets sepsis. Our staff is committed to diligent identification and treatment that saves our patients’ lives.”

According to CMS, more than 200,000 people in the United States die every year from sepsis. Although anyone can develop the disease, older adults and people with weak immune systems are at greater risk for it. Early identification and treatment are keys to successful recovery from sepsis.

“The sepsis protocols consist of specific, time-sensitive actions and interventions that we do to save someone’s life,” stated Lisa Leckrone, director of quality and risk management at St. Mary Medical Center. “And we are saving lives.”

Every September in observance of National Sepsis Awareness Month, St. Mary Medical Center recognizes those physicians and nurses who have excelled in following the infection’s timely treatment regimens and identifying patients with sepsis. Most patients who come to the hospital with sepsis come through the emergency room.

The top-performing team members this year were emergency physicians Drs. Noah Lee, Lauren Rutili and Irene Dmitruk; ER nurse Jill Cawthon; intensive-care unit nurse Alyssa Hernandez; and IMCU nurse Angela Pigg.

Leckrone emphasized that the public also has an important role to play in understanding and recognizing the signs of sepsis.

“We encourage people in our community to educate themselves about the signs and symptoms of this life-threatening infection,” she stated. “If you or a loved one comes into the emergency department with symptoms, don’t hesitate to ask your care provider about the sepsis protocol. Saying something could save a life.”

Pneumonia and urinary tract infections are two common conditions that can lead to sepsis, but any infection can cause it. The condition can be especially troublesome for patients with diabetes, high blood pressure or any other chronic illness. Symptoms may include fever, chills, extreme pain, pale skin, sleepiness or confusion, intense muscle pain, accelerated heart rate or difficulty breathing.

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