What was supposed to be a routine appointment for an outpatient at UF Health Internal Medicine at Tower Hill turned into a test for the clinical care staff. A test for which they were well-prepared.
Beverly Humphreys, C.M.A., a medical assistant, noticed that one of her patients was agitated, with a fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit and elevated heart and respiratory rates. Humphreys realized something was wrong.
She quickly notified Katherine Huber, M.D., a professor of medicine and the medical director of UF Health Internal Medicine at Tower Hill. After an examination, Huber determined that the patient was experiencing a severe case of sepsis and called in a sepsis alert. The patient was immediately transported to the UF Health Shands E.R., where staff promptly treated the patient and identified the source of infection. A quick referral to UF Health Urology specialists resulted in a life-saving surgery.
“This situation was different because the patient was coming from an outpatient practice, which is not usually where a sepsis alert is started,” Huber said. “The care of sepsis requires a team approach and the patient survived because of the quick responses from all of the services involved.”
Because of Humphrey’s close attention and action and Huber’s quick response, and the help of each team’s dedicated care and adherence to protocol, the patient was saved from a potentially fatal situation.
“Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that arises when the body mounts a massive response to an infection,” said Thomas Payton, M.D., M.B.A., FACEP, the UF College of Medicine department of emergency medicine vice chair for clinical operations and UF Health Shands E.R. medical director. “Our initial goal for a patient identified as having sepsis begins with aggressive fluid resuscitation and giving the patient appropriate antibiotics as soon as possible.”
Huber, who is on the UF Health Shands Board of Directors Executive Quality Committee, said she is familiar with the alert process because information about sepsis is frequently discussed among teams at UF Health.
“One of the keys to this patient’s care was the early notification,” Payton said. “Within the last few years, our entire health system has renewed its commitment to identifying sepsis to provide the best care as early as possible. In this case, the system worked.”