This past Tuesday, June 7, I read an article in the Columbus Dispatch about a local man who was successfully treated for sepsis at the Ohio State University Medical Center. Sepsis is a concern for any doctor to watch for in his patients, but is especially important to watch for in a podiatric setting because it occurs more commonly in diabetic individuals and often involves the feet or legs.
Unfortunately for the man mentioned in the article, even though his life was saved he still lost parts of his hands and one half of each foot to gangrene. In sepsis, a bacterial infection has spread through the body in the bloodstream. This triggers a body-wide immune response that creates tiny clots, inhibiting blood supply to tissues that require blood to remain vital and functioning. In diabetic patients, whose blood supply is often already compromised to their lower extremities, steps must be taken to prevent infections and thus sepsis and gangrene as well. While the man in the article did not know where his infection came from and his first sign of an infection was a sore throat, hospitalized patients and those recovering from surgery are often at the highest risk for sepsis. All patients, but especially diabetic patients, need to avoid any open wounds, cuts or lesions on their legs or feet. If a wound goes unnoticed, it may become infected with bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus which can worsen and spread to become sepsis if not treated.
To prevent wound infections and sepsis, self-foot exams are very important. Identify any breaks in the skin as soon as possible. Take proper care to clean and bandage wounds and watch for abnormal changes. Pain, redness, swelling and discharge are all possible signs of infection that you should contact your podiatrist to examine immediately. If you can visibly see an infection spread from one part of the foot to another, this is also cause for prompt medical attention. If an infection is present and you develop a fever, elevated heart or respiratory rate this is indicative that the infection has spread to become sepsis and treatment becomes even more urgent. The earlier an infection is stopped the better the treatment outcome will be for the patient. Hopefully patient awareness will increase thanks to survivor stories such as the one featured in the Columbus Dispatch to prevent amputations and save lives!
Please visit www.ColumbusFoot.com for more information or call 614-885 FEET (3338) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington.