The #1 Deadly Condition Treated in the Hospital May Surprise You

The #1 Deadly Condition Treated in the Hospital May Surprise You

It’s unknown to most people but serious and life threatening.

Being an ICU nurse, I have seen it all. I’ve seen young children come in struggling to breathe due to an asthma attack. I’ve seen elderly people come in after having CPR to restart their heart. I’ve helped bring people back to life. But, the thing that I have seen most in the hospital might surprise you. When you think of what the number one cause of death in the United States would be, what comes to mind? Cancer? Heart disease? While those are prevalent throughout the United States, it might surprise you to know that sepsis is the leading cause of death in United States hospitals.

So, What in the World is Sepsis?

With September being Sepsis Awareness Month, I feel it is important for you to know what sepsis is and how to prevent/detect sepsis in yourself or your loved ones. So, what in the world is sepsis? In general, it is the body’s overwhelming response to an infection that can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, amputations, and even death.

You may have never even heard of sepsis. Most people haven’t. Yet, it is the number one killer with people coming to the ER when they are already in organ failure. Like a heart attack or stroke, time is of the essence when treating sepsis. This is necessary to protect your organs from going into failure.

Do You Know the Warning Signs and Importance of Immediate Treatment?

Here are some facts that may surprise you:

  • Less than 1% of the population can name the signs and symptoms of sepsis
  • Death from sepsis increases by as much as 8% for every hour that treatment is delayed
  • Most cases of sepsis begin at home (up to 87% of sepsis cases) and not in the hospital
  • As many as 80% of sepsis deaths could be prevented with rapid diagnosis and treatment

Most people either don’t know about sepsis or they assume it only happens to a vulnerable population. The truth is, sepsis knows no age discrimination, it doesn’t affect men more than women, and it doesn’t affect the older generation more than young children.

What are the Warning Signs?

Sepsis can start with something as simple as a small cut or a toothache that can develop into an infection. Now, not every cut or toothache develops into sepsis, but it is important to know what to look for as a possible indication of sepsis. So you may be asking, what are the signs and symptoms?

Think SEPSIS

S – Shivering, fever, or very cold

E – Extreme pain or general discomfort (“worst ever”)

P – Pale or discolored skin

S – Sleepy, difficult to rouse, confused

I – “I feel like I might die”

S – Shortness of breath

Take ACTION

If you see a combination of these symptoms and suspect sepsis, see a medical professional IMMEDIATELY.  The sooner treatment gets started, the better chance you or your loved one has at surviving and making a full recovery.

When caught early, immediate administration of IV antibiotics and fluids can be all you need to make a full recovery. However, if organ failure has already started by the time someone comes to the hospital, they may need to come see me in the ICU. You may need medications to raise your blood pressure or have a breathing tube hooked up to a ventilator to help provide the oxygen you need. The longer someone delays getting treatment for sepsis, the greater the likelihood that the person will have severe complications such as kidney failure requiring dialysis or problems taking care of themselves (such as walking by yourself, bathing, brushing your teeth, etc.). It can even lead to death.

Be Informed, Tell Others – Let’s Raise Awareness and Save Lives

As a nurse, I have made it my job to tell all my friends and loved ones about the signs and symptoms of sepsis, and ways to prevent it.

Prevention starts with something as simple as washing your hands and cleaning any cut/injury. A lot of people don’t realize that bacteria naturally lives on your skin and given the right circumstances can grow into an infection from something as little as a cut or burn.

I urge you to tell everyone you know about the signs and symptoms as well as the ways to prevent sepsis. With your help, we can increase awareness of sepsis so people will seek treatment sooner, and lives will be saved.

Learn More About Sepsis

To learn more about Sepsis, listen to our latest Bryan Health podcast. Bill Johnson, MD, Nebraska Pulmonary Specialties shares how you can spot this condition, and emphasizes how early diagnosis and treatment can be lifesaving.

Paige Fellers

Paige Fellers

RN, ICU

Paige Fellers is a registered nurse in the ICU at Bryan Health.

Talking About the #MeToo Movement with My Grandkids

Talking About the #MeToo Movement with My Grandkids

The list of famous men accused of sexual harassment these past few months seems endless. At first, because of their fame and presence on our screens, the *#MeToo movement almost felt like it was happening in another world. But it wasn’t. Local marches and discussions, even in Lincoln, Nebraska, showed us that it’s everywhere. No one knows if this is part of a revolution or if the #MeToo movement will pass. Despite that, I think it was important to talk about it with my grandkids.

Don’t Worry Grandma

Recently, I met up with my grandkids for lunch for one last gathering before the new school year and their days fill up with class, clubs, sports and other new challenges. I was curious to learn if my granddaughters knew about the #MeToo movement and if they knew how they would respond to sexual harassment. Would they confront the person? Would they share their story with a friend or adult? Would they feel comfortable sharing it with their parents? I also wondered about my grandson. Is he prepared to act if he encounters harassment or assault either towards himself or another person?

I also wanted to share my thoughts and feelings about the #MeToo movement and tell them the story of Tarana Burke, who’s 2006 story of sexual assault and advocacy started the #MeToo movement. After listening to a young woman share her sexual assault story, Tarana, a sexual assault survivor herself, didn’t know what to say. Later, she wished she would have said, “me, too.” This is how the #MeToo movement began.

When I brought up the #MeToo movement during lunch that day my oldest granddaughter said, “Don’t worry about it grandma. We’ve got it figured out.” They wanted to share their excitement over the new school year, laughing and teasing each other, not talk about sexual violence. I get it. This wasn’t the time for grandma’s serious talk. So, I let it go.

What Was In It for Me?

Maybe I wanted to have this discussion because of my life as an educator. My eagerness to make sure all students are safe and taken care of is important to me. But mostly I care about having a plan to help young people deal with sexual harassment and assault. The plan can’t always be carried out exactly as planned, but I feel better when there’s something we can look to in a time of crisis. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to this with my grandkids that day, but that’s okay.

Or, maybe I wanted to have this discussion because I’m a nosy grandma? I really was curious to hear where my grandkid’s minds were on this topic.

Lastly, maybe I wanted to have this discussion because it’s on my mind. I don’t want it to be lost in the never-ending news cycle.

It’s Out of My Control

What’s funny is, I used to worry about my grandkids falling off bicycles or climbing too high on the playground equipment. I still worry about them every day, but what I’m worried about has changed. I’m not in control when it comes to their response to the #MeToo movement. I’m confident that their parents have helped them prepare for the future, but it’s not up to me. I have to take a deep breath and trust that they will do their best, just as they’ve always done.

It’s always been my belief that change doesn’t happen until there’s a crisis. Society needs to shift in order to disrupt the narrative around sexual violence to make the changes we need. Tarana Burke said, “If in this country, we had an outbreak of some communicable disease that 12 million people got in a 24-hour period, we would be focused solely on the cure. That’s the difference in how people think about the disease of sexual violence.”

*Please note, I may not have used the correct way to address the movement, #MeToo. Sorry, I don’t have any idea what a hashtag stands for or means. Guess I’ll need to ask my grandkids!

If you or a loved one needs help after a serious trauma such as sexual assault, the Bryan Medical Center emergency department offers specially trained, discrete sexual assault nurse examiners who can help. The Bryan Counseling Center also offers compassionate counselors who work specifically with those who have endured serious trauma or abuse.

To schedule an appointment with the Bryan Counseling Center, call 402-481-5991.

Nancy Becker

Nancy Becker

Grandkids & Grandparents

I have four grandchildren ages 14-17. In some ways, I’m a very typical grandma, always proud of everything the kids do and wanting to help support them in whatever way I can. In other ways, I’m not very typical. My goal as a blogger is to share my thoughts and experiences that I think are funny and meaningful as I adventure through grandmahood.

If you could prevent your child from getting cancer, what would you do?

If you could prevent your child from getting cancer, what would you do?

You have the power to prevent cancer your child could get later in life

The dog days of summer are upon us and my family of six has spent countless days at the pool, baseball games and summer camps. Now a new school year is starting, and it’s a good time to make sure our children are up to date on their check-ups with the doctor, dentist and optometrist. As a parent of kids ranging in ages from eight to 13, this year also included discussions about the importance of getting the HPV vaccine for cancer prevention.

What is HPV, and how does it lead to cancer?

HPV stands for the human papillomavirus. It includes a group of more than 150 related viruses. Some types of HPV can cause warts or papillomas, which are non-cancerous. Most of the time our body’s natural immune systems can fight off the infections the virus can cause. But, some types of HPV cause cancer in both men and women. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), HPV causes most cases of cervical cancer, and nearly all cases of pre-cervical cancers. It also causes many vaginal, vulvar, anal, penile, throat and tongue cancers.

As I began to learn more about HPV, I found myself wondering how common is the virus. What I found was astounding:

  • Each year in the United States 31,500 people are diagnosed with a cancer related to an HPV infection.
  • The virus spreads through skin-to-skin contact. Any man or woman who has ever had sex, including vaginal, anal or oral, can get the virus.
  • Four out of five people will have HPV at some point in their lives, according to the latest estimates. The virus is so common that the best way to prevent an HPV infection is to get vaccinated.

Is the HPV vaccine safe?

This is the first thing I wanted to know after hearing about this cancer prevention vaccine! I felt comforted knowing that more than 270 million doses have been given around the world since 2006, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). As a registered nurse, I understand any vaccination has potential side effects. Yet many people who get the HPV vaccine report no side effects. Potential side effects of the HPV vaccine have been mild like other vaccines. The HPV vaccine is approved by the CDC, and like all vaccines, receives ongoing monitoring.

So how can I prevent cancers that my kids could get later in life?

As a cancer nurse navigator and a mom of four children, I was very interested in the current recommendations to prevent HPV related cancers. I started by having a conversation with our family doctor. I learned my kids could receive the two series vaccination (six-12 months apart), as early as age nine or ten. The CDC highly recommends kids be vaccinated at ages 11 or 12, as that is when the vaccine has been shown to be the most effective. If a child starts the vaccination series between the ages of 15-26, a third vaccination is recommended.

The HPV vaccine prevents infections from nine HPV types that cause HPV cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, receiving the vaccine before being exposed to the virus can prevent up to 90% of HPV cancers!

As I was making doctor’s appointments for my kids, my almost 11-year-old son openly shared his disgust in having yet another “shot” scheduled with his upcoming appointment. This brought up a great moment to have a conversation about the purpose of this vaccine in preventing certain cancers later in life. He has heard many of my stories over the years of people struggling with cancer. He asked several great questions about the vaccine, and I didn’t hear him complain again.

A week later his sister was giving him a hard time that he was the ONLY kid who needed a shot this year. He promptly responded, “I’d rather have a two-second sting than a cancer that I didn’t need to have!” Proud mom moment!

I have had the personal experience of caring for patients with HPV related cancers. With this new cancer prevention vaccine, I feel so lucky to live during a time where these types of cancers could be greatly reduced or even eliminated in my kids’ generation!

My suggestion for parents is to talk with your child’s doctor about the HPV vaccine, and to your children about why “another shot” is so important. For more information, check out the links below.

www.cancer.org/hpv

www.cdc.gov/hpv

*Information for this blog provided by American Cancer Society.

Carmen Orr

Carmen Orr

RN, Cancer Nurse Navigator

Carmen Orr is a Bryan Medical Center oncology nurse navigator, which is a  specially trained nurses who are here to help you and your family through each step of your cancer journey.

How Important is the HPV Vaccine?

Listen to our podcast with Dr. Philip Boucher, a pediatrician with Lincoln Pediatric Group, to learn more about the importance of the HPV vaccine, research done on its effectiveness and tips on talking to your child about why they are getting the vaccine.

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