Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sepsis Death Needs Call to Action - Not Blaming

Terrible things happen every day. For example, on June 25, I wrote about how we were up to 33 drownings in the province of Quebec this year. As of this past weekend, we were at 45. It's a knee-jerk reaction to blame the parents or the people who were watching the children, but that doesn't bring the children back. We need to learn from the mistakes that happened and try to prevent further tragedies.

The same thing is happening, in my opinion, with the story about 12-year-old Rory Staunton, who died of sepsis after a cut on his arm became infected (NY Times report - Yahoo Shine report - NY Times OpEd).

What happened to Rory was a terrible, horrible tragedy. Did someone drop the ball? It sure seems so. But the finger pointing is leading to defensiveness and harsh words between people who blame the "evil" system and who they believe to be uncaring doctors, and doctors who are defending themselves saying that they can't know everything all the time - that sometimes, mistakes are made.

I know, I'm a nurse. I've made my share of errors as a nurse. Let me tell you, doctors and nurses, and other healthcare professionals, do not feel good when they make a mistake. Those mistakes often keep us awake at night and cause us great personal pain and distress. This is not anything like the pain a family or patient may feel, but people who work in the healthcare system are human - no more and no less than anyone else.

Blame doesn't get anyone anywhere. What we need to do to prevent another Rory or any of the others you will find here in the Faces of Sepsis from getting so ill, is to know what we are up against, to be knowledgeable about our own health. We need to push for action, for change.

Sepsis Alliance is a patient advocacy group in the United States and a founding member of the Global Sepsis Alliance. They have a call to action: Have all hospitals in the United States adopt Code Sepsis by year 2020. It wasn't all that long ago that hospitals began to adopt Code Blue, a protocol that kicks into action when someone has a cardiac arrest. Like Code Blue, Code Sepsis would be a protocol followed across the board, providing fluids and antibiotics within the first hour of the suspicion of sepsis. Code Blue has saved thousands of lives. Code Sepsis can too.

Push for sepsis awareness in your community. Push your government representatives to make sepsis awareness a priority. Push, push, push.

Blaming will not bring Rory Staunton back, but pushing for change, pushing for awareness - these will help prevent future tragedies like what has touched the Stauntons.

Late addition:

Please don't get me wrong. I understand blaming people, I understand there are often circumstances when a person's negligence or actions cause injuries or death and blame is a natural response. The point of this blog post is to try to explain how it would be a good thing for everyone - I think - for us to try to move past blame and work on action to prevent such injuries and deaths from happening to someone else. Working on action doesn't take away a person's culpability, but it moves things forward.


Unknown said...

Hi, i agree on what u are saying and trying to do. I got ARDS in 2001 along with sepsis (septic shock) coma, life support and all the rest, 3 months hospital stay and all the rest. I know in my case how it all started and the cause, to late for me after it happen but awareness to others is the solution. Rob

Jennifer Margulis said...

I read that NYT article about Rory twice. It was so devastating what happened to him.

Marijke Vroomen-Durning said...

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment Rob. I hope you are doing ok now.

Marijke Vroomen-Durning said...

I agree Jennifer. The problem is that every 2 minutes, another person in the US dies of sepsis.

If these deaths were being caused by a product on the market, imagine the uproar. There's no way it would continue to be sold. More people die of sepsis than most other diseases. Yet so few people know about it.