From the Winter 2009 issue of StayHealthy Magazine
As soon as Emergency Department physicians at Porter's Valparaiso Hospital Campus saw Angela Coleman, they knew she was dying. Less than 24 hours earlier, the young wife and mother of four appeared to be healthy. Her husband, Narles, says his wife quickly became ill with back pain and a fever, but would not go to the hospital until the next day.
"Honestly, we though she had a bad flu or pneumonia, but as soon at Tim Whetsel, MD evaluated Angela in the Emergency Department, we hot the horrible news that she might not make it. Dr. Whetself told us that Angela had sepsis; there was a 50 percent chance she would not survive. It was an unbelievable time. I did not even know what sepsis was."
Narles Coleman did not know when he brought his wife to Porter, he was bringing her to one of the nation's premier institutions recognized for its success in treating sepsis, a common and lethal problem that occurs when a patient contracts an infection along with complications, known collectively as systemic inflammatory response syndrome.
Instead of survival rates that hover around 50 percent as is the case in many other hospitals around the country the most recent data shows sepsis survival rates at Porter are 80.4 percent. Included as part of a national, multi-year study designed to gauge the impact early intervention has on death rates, Porter's sepsis mortality rates were the lowest of any hospital system included int he study. Other study participants include Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Kansas University and Barnes Jewish Medical Center in Missouri.
"Five years ago, Mrs. Coleman would have died. Today, not only do we know more, but at Porter we have worked to educate everyone in the care setting about sepsis, how to recognize it and how we treat it," he says.
Dr. Whetsel, Douglas Mazurek, MD and members of Porter's clinical staff have been meeting twice a month since 2004 to study the latest data on the identification and treatment of sepsis. During that time, the group has continued to fine-tune Porter's sepsis protocols and worked to increase the survival rates of patients who develop sepsis and are treated at Porter.
Mr. Coleman says he is thankful he brought his wife to Porter.
"I am so thankful to God — and to Dr. Whetsel — that she pulled through," he says. "Angela was so very ill but with the treatment and care she received she started to turn around. I would see Dr. Whetsel at 5 in the morning taking care of my wife and I would see him late at night. He was always there taking care of her. I have talked to other doctors about Angela since this happened and they told me it is a miracle she made it. The care she received at Porter was outstanding."
For Dr. Whetsel, the thanks is in seeing his patients get better — and back to their lives.
"There are a number of people I see when I am out in the community who survived sepsis because we intervened and that is a really great feeling," he says. "This transformation of the Intensive Care Unit never could have happened without the dedication and commitment of the critical care nursing staff. I know with Mrs. Coleman, she has gone home and will be able to take care of her family and watch her children grow and that we did everything we could to make that happen for her — and her family."