Code Sepsis: A Miracle Walks In the Door


DALLAS, TX (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Sepsis is a serious medical condition striking more than a million Americans every year.  It happens when the body over-reacts to an infection causing blood clots, leaky blood vessels, and organ damage. As many as 30 percent of the people who get it die.  But now, a hospital in Texas has teamed up with a local fire department to identify and treat sepsis in the field.  Lives are being saved, and other communities are watching.

Seventy-eight-year-old Joyce Shore had been unable to move off of her couch for four days. Finally, emergency help was summoned. When paramedics arrived, they suspected septic shock and responded with brand new measures, which likely saved Shore’s life.

“I wouldn’t be here today, if it wasn’t for them,” Shore said.

Dorie Murray, RN at Medical City North Hills said “Nationwide, it’s a problem with mortality and a lot of people dying from it every day.” (Read Full Interview)

The North Richland Hills Fire Department teamed up with Medical City North Hills to start a Code Sepsis program. Paramedic-firefighters are trained to recognize, test for and begin to treat sepsis with antibiotics in the field on the way to the hospital.

Murray continued, “Last year we saved 136 total out of the patients we had.  So that, you know you can always have mortality with any type of patients, but knowing that you sent 136 people back home with their families is enough reason to keep a program going.”

Shore showed symptoms- fever, chills, rapid breathing and heart rate, confusion, and disorientation, so the paramedics initiated Code Sepsis.

“They were marvelous. They were a miracle that walked in my apartment, they really were, wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for them,” Shore told Ivanhoe.

Since the inception of Code Sepsis one year ago, emergency responders in other regions have begun to implement similar programs.  Paramedics in South Carolina are now using the Code Sepsis protocol, and organizers say other communities have made inquiries.

Contributors to this news report include: Don Wall, Field Producer; Mark Montgomery, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Hayley Hudson, Assistant Producer; Dave Harrison, Editor.


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BACKGROUND: Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection. Sepsis occurs when chemicals released into the bloodstream to fight the infection trigger inflammatory responses throughout the body. This inflammation can trigger a cascade of changes that can damage multiple organ systems, causing them to fail. If sepsis progresses to septic shock, blood pressure drops dramatically, this may lead to death. Anyone can develop sepsis, but it’s most common and most dangerous in older adults or those with weakened immune systems. Early treatment of sepsis, usually with antibiotics and large amounts of intravenous fluids, improves chances for survival. Dorie Murray, MSN, RN, CNL, CCRN, the Sepsis Coordinator at Medical City North Hills says, “It can occur from anything, from a bug bite all the way up to pneumonia. If you have a bug bite that there’s been entry in to your system and then there’s some type of bacteria that gets in there that can somewhat cause sepsis. Any type of infection that you have can lead to sepsis.”

(Source: Dorie Murray, RN &


TREATMENT: A number of medications are used in treating sepsis. They include: antibiotics which should begin immediately, within the first six hours or earlier. If your blood pressure remains too low even after receiving intravenous fluids, you may be given a vasopressor medication, which constricts blood vessels and helps to increase blood pressure. Diagnosing sepsis can be difficult because its signs and symptoms can be caused by other disorders. Doctors often order a battery of tests to try to pinpoint the underlying infection, but sometimes these tests are not done quickly enough.



CODE SEPSIS: The Medical City North Hills hospital decided to team up with their local EMTs, who are almost always the first medical professionals patients come in contact with. Murray said that she “gave them their protocol that said, if the patient has this criteria, this patient may have sepsis. What the EMTs were doing was calling on the radio and letting us know that they were bringing a patient that meets sepsis criteria so they could activate a Code Sepsis. We found that when EMS activated a Code Sepsis we had better numbers in terms of getting their bundle treatment completed quicker than we did if it was just a patient coming in off the street.” Every hour that a patient goes without an antibiotic when they suspect sepsis their mortality goes up 7.6 percent.

(Source: Dorrie Murray, RN)



Dorrie Murray


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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Dorie Murray, MSN, RN

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