Local medical experts working to improve sepsis detection and treatment

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Sean Harden, the 11-year-old Cohoes boy who passed away from sepsis, and Josh Woodward, the firefighter who survived the illness after months of fighting, are proof of how the often lethal illness can happen to anyone.

Sepsis is a complex disease with often devastating outcomes. Local medical experts are working on the frontlines to learn more about sepsis and prevent tragedies from happening in the future.

Al Cardillo is the president of the Home Care Association of New York State. He’s working to get a bill signed by Governor Cuomo that would be the first sepsis support measure for home care, recognizing that while sepsis is widely known as a hospital problem, 80 to 90% of sepsis cases originate in the community.

“Sepsis is always associated with an infection, but there might be an infection that exists that the person might not be aware of,” Cardillo told News10, “it could be that they had a sore throat.”

Cardillo says the bill, that passed through both houses, if signed by the Governor, would save more lives, and also save the hospitals money through earlier detection.

“Our goal, particularly with the home health system, is to work not only to monitor, but teach the individual and the family what to look for and how to prevent,” Cardillo told News10.

At Albany Medical College, doctors are utilizing a $2 million grant to research sepsis and other sever infections.

Dr. Michelle Lennartz says learning new things about sepsis will help a broad spectrum of patients with other illnesses.

“Sepsis is a complicated disease and it starts with the dysfunction of the immune system,” Dr. Lennartz told News10, “the immune system is involved in atherosclerosis, and cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease, and sepsis, and just fighting infection.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of sepsis include a change in mental status, a first number in a blood pressure reading that’s less than or equal to 100 millimeters of mercury, and a respiratory rate higher than or equal to 22 breaths per minute.

More on the signs and symptoms of septic shock can be found here.

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