Apr 4 2008

Saving a Life - Education with Impact - Treating Sepsis

Posted by cheyennejack at 8:02 PM
- Categories: Healthcare

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Working in IT, its not everyday that you get to hear and know about the impact your work has made has made on people completely outside of the client requirements and the profit margin.  This week our entire team from writers, designers, project mangagers and developers did get that news.  This week we saved a life.  This is the story.


On April 1st our team did a broadcast entitled "Early Identification and Treatment Protocols in Managing Severe Sepsis" now hosted on www.WebBasedCME.com. The purpose of the broadcast was to educate healthcare professionals about current and emerging methods for early identification of severe sepsis in adult patients.

As luck would have it our Sr. Director of Continuing Medical Education (CME) also serves as Chief of Emergency Medical Services in his town.  13 hours after this broadcast, this is his story.

As many of you know one of the other hats I wear is as Chief of Emergency Medical Services in the town I live in.  I had just arrived home last night around midnight when I heard a dispatch go out for one of my EMS crews to respond to a local nursing home for a 84 year-old female in respiratory distress.  Since we had three other calls in progress I responded to the nursing home to assess and provide on-scene care until one of my crews was available.  

Upon arrival at the nursing home I found this 84 year-old female lying in her bed in moderate respiratory distress. She had a heart rate of 138 (sinus tachycardia) and a respiratory rate of 28 and labored.  Her blood pressure was 102/68 (her normal blood pressures were 28 points higher so she was beginning to decompensate).  Her lungs sounded really junky and she had been diagnosed with pneumonia earlier that day and started on IV antibiotics.  

Her pulse ox was only 84% on 4 liters of oxygen (normal should be 96-100%) The patient’s mental status was altered as well.  The nursing home staff said she is normally alert and oriented and my assessment found her very confused.  Her belly was normal and I also noticed she had a urinary catheter in place.  The last temperature done by the nursing home staff was 101.8.  I had them retake it and it was 102.2.  

While waiting for the ambulance to arrive I put her on high-flow oxygen and started an IV and began giving her fluids.  My crew arrived and we began transport to the hospital.  As most have you have already surmised this lady was septic.  I called ahead to the emergency department and let them know what was coming in.  

As fate would have it, are you ready for this, upon our arrival in the ER the charge nurse (who was also the Director of the ER) had already alerted the critical care resident and they were setting up for a CVP line!  It turns out the nurse saw our broadcast and based on my radio report also recognized the patient was septic and skipped ahead to get the critical care resident on call to come to the ER and evaluate and treat her.  The nurse told me that her boss, the VP for nursing as well as the hospital QA Director were also participants in the broadcast.

I called back to the ED on my way into the office this morning.  The patient is in stable condition, vital signs are normal and tissue oxygenation was normal.  Her mental status is back to normal and she is expected to do well!

Guys it just does not get any better than this!  Within 13 hours of the broadcast we find clinicians are putting this information to use in the clinical setting!  No doubt it heightened my awareness in the field and it was so satisfying to see it’s impact on one nurse who is in a position to affect change.

We can debate all day long, Mac vs. PC, Twitter vs. Pownce, Facebook vs. Myspace or Apple vs. Microsoft, but in the end its about helping each other learn something new and be more knowledgeable at the end of the day.  Today it helped an elderly lady, it helped her family, and hopefully it touches thousands.  This is why we do what we do, why we communicate and why we transfer knowledge.

What have you learned today? Better yet who have you taught. 

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