Jul 16, 2012

Updated: SEPTRIS, A Game to Teach about Sepsis, plus related links, in memory of Rory Staunton

Earlier this year I wrote a post about SEPTRIS, a game developed to teach medical professionals about sepsis.  I have updated the post in memory of Rory Staunton, a 12-year-old boy who died on April 1st after a small scrape on his leg became infected with Group A Strep. Rory took a turn for the worse, as his infection became a sepsis crisis.  Some of his symptoms went unnoticed when he was in the ER and he was sent home.  By the time he returned, it was too late. 

Rory's death was featured in a recent article in the New York Times, resulting in comments from over 1500 people at the time of this post. After reading through some of the comments, it was clear to me that much more work needs to be done in terms of research, public awareness, and the  the continuing education of our medical professionals, so that more lives can be saved. Sepsis shock can occur from a variety of infections and is not limited to Strep. It is a complex issue. (Information regarding Rory's story can be found at the end of this post.)

Below is my updated post:

According to a fact sheet from the Global Sepsis Alliance, sepsis "remains the primary cause of death from infection despite advances in modern medicine, including vaccines, antibiotics, and intensive care.  Sepsis, which is often misunderstood by the public as "blood-poisoning", is one of the leading cause of death around the world.  Sepsis arises when the body's response to an infection injures its own tissues and organs.  It may lead to shock, multiple organ failure, and death, especially if not recognized early and treated promptly.  Between on third and one half of patients with sepsis die...

...Rapid initiation of simple, timely interventions, including antimicrobials and intravenous fluids can halve the risk of dying. Patients with suspected sepsis should be referred immediately to an appropriate facility...Unfortunately, sepsis is still mostly overlooked and recognized too late"

SEPTRIS, a game about sepsis, was developed by a team of people from Stanford University.   The following article, written by Sara Wykes (Stanford School of Medicine), provides an in-depth account of the story behind the development of a game designed to teach medical professionals about sepsis:  Game on: Stanford develops new tool for teaching doctors to treat sepsis. 
Renee Reijo Pera
Credit:  "Dr. Septris"; Septris Screen Shot: Stanford University

Septris CME Website (Stanford)
Septris Game
Septris Technical Design & Development Team
Brian TobinJamie Tsui, James Laird, Glenn Zephier

World Sepsis Declaration (pdf)
Sepsis Alliance
Global Sepsis Alliance
Pediatric Sepsis Initiative
STOP Sepsis Collaborative
Presentation:  Preventing Sepsis: Artificial Intelligence, Knowledge Discovery, and Visualization (Phillip Chang, Remco Chang,Judy Goldsmith) 

Sepsis: Emergency


Why is this important?
Sepsis Awareness is now one of my "causes", because my daughter is a sepsis survivor, and too many other deaths could be prevented.  The first World Sepsis Day is September 13, 2012 and to do my part for the cause, I plan to share information about this serious global health concern.

Below is a picture of my 24-year-old daughter, her husband, and son on Friday, March 30, 2012.   At the time this picture was taken, she felt fine and had just walked about a mile and a half or so on a family stroll. She was in perfect health.  She woke up in the wee hours of March 31st with the signs of an infection, took something for her aches and pains, and went back to bed.

The next morning, things were much worse. She didn't know it at the time, but her blood pressure was falling and the signs of sepsis were appearing.  Time was wasted going to an urgent care clinic. Fortunately, she was referred to the E.R, where her her symptoms were identified.  She received excellent treatment at Matthews Presbyterian Hospital.  It took several days until she was stable, and she was hospitalized for one week.  Unlike many people who experience sepsis, she did not suffer tissue damage or shutdown of her organs. Her treatment was initiated early enough to prevent this from happening. Although she survived, she suffered a great deal.

Below is a picture of my daughter as she was beginning to recover.
UPDATE 7/15/12  
My daughter is doing much better, but she experienced a great deal of fatigue for several weeks following her hospitalization. She's now 25, and happy to be alive.

I recently came across an article written in the New York Times, by Jim Dwyer, about Rory Staunton, a 12-year-old boy who died from a strep infection that resulted in a sepsis crisis that went untreated.  Unlike my daughter, Rory was discharged from the ER instead of being admitted for the intensive treatment that my daughter received. When his parents took him back to the hospital, it was too late. He died on April 1, 2012.  My daughter was battling sepsis in a hospital in North Carolina on the very same day. 

My heart goes out to Rory's family.  I know that he must have suffered a great deal.  

Although I am not a physician, I am sure that Rory's death could have been prevented, based on information in the article as well as information shared by Rory's parents on their website. To learn more about Rory's story, read the New York Time's article and a few of the comments. At the time of this update, over 1500 comments were listed on the NYT's website.

An Infection, Unnoticed, Turns Unstoppable
Jim Dwyer, New York Times, 7/11/12
Reaction to Column About a Boy Who Died
Jim Dwyer, New York Times, 7/14/12
Rory Staunton (website created by Rory's parents)
Rory's sepsis crisis was the result of toxic shock from a Strep A infection.  Sepsis can also be the result of other types of infections. The main thing to know that  is that once sepsis sets in, the patient requires immediate and intensive treatment, guided by an infectious disease specialist.  

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