Sepsis: The Aftermath
Sepsis is unquestionably one of the most serious conditions of our time, killing millions of people all over the world. The main focus of the fight against sepsis has rightly been to save the life of the patient, either by diagnosing sepsis and administrating antibiotics early enough, by managing comorbidities or -as in the case of the hemotune device - by stabilizing the immune response of the patient during sepsis.
Still, patients who survive sepsis are still very much affected by the experience, too often becoming physically and mentally impaired. Studies focusing on the sepsis survivors find that survivors show reduced quality of life due to factors ranging from increased hospital re-admissions to shortened life expectancy to physical and cognitive impairment, requiring help with otherwise simple tasks such as reading and spelling(1,2,3). Furthermore, going through the experience of sepsis can also leave a mark on the patients’ psyche, with survivors often showing symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)(4,5).
More to the point, these consequences and more are observed in sepsis survivors with Post Sepsis Syndrome. Symptoms include insomnia, lethargy, hair loss and reduced kidney function. These factors not only point to the impact sepsis can have on an individual, even if they survive, but also emphasize the importance of appropriate aftercare for the patients. Unfortunately, far too many people are let down by the aftercare they receive. A survey of 1731 participants from 41 countries, including the USA, UK, Austria and Germany, showed the majority of patients either did not receive psychological counselling in- or after-hospital, or if they did, they felt ‘somewhat to very dissatisfied’ (2).
Controlling sepsis symptoms is fundamental to hemotune's mission. We believe this is key in not only saving the lives of sepsis patients, but also to reduce the length of the survivors' hospital stays, minimize their risk of morbidity and hospital re-admission and improve the overall outcome of their long term health.
Sepsis Alliance offers a comprehensive guide for sepsis survivors on life after sepsis, while Sepsis Trust offers a wide range of resources on Post Sepsis Syndrome.
Also, if you are a sepsis survivor, or know someone who is, and are based in the UK, Sepsis UK Trust runs support groups which could help with mental aftercare.
1 Ehlenbach WJ, Gilmore-Bykovskyi A, Repplinger MD, Westergaard RP, Jacobs EA, Kind AJH et al. Sepsis Survivors Admitted to Skilled Nursing Facilities: Cognitive Impairment, Activities of Daily Living Dependence, and Survival. Crit Care Med 2018. doi:10.1097/CCM.0000000000002755. 2 Huang CY, Daniels R, Lembo A, Hartog C, O’Brien J, Heymann T et al. Life after sepsis: An international survey of survivors to understand the post-sepsis syndrome. Int J Qual Heal Care 2019. doi:10.1093/intqhc/mzy137. 3 Goodwin AJ, Ford DW. Readmissions among Sepsis Survivors: Risk Factors and Prevention. Clin Pulm Med 2018. doi:10.1097/CPM.0000000000000254. 4 Boer KR, Van Ruler O, Van Emmerik AAP, Sprangers MA, De Rooij SE, Vroom MB et al. Factors associated with posttraumatic stress symptoms in a prospective cohort of patients after abdominal sepsis: A nomogram. Intensive Care Med 2008. doi:10.1007/s00134-007-0941-3. 5 Brück E, Schandl A, Bottai M, Sackey P. The impact of sepsis, delirium, and psychological distress on self-rated cognitive function in ICU survivors-a prospective cohort study. J Intensive Care 2018. doi:10.1186/s40560-017-0272-6.