Martha Jefferson Healthwise: Sepsis Treatment

April 24, 2013

April 22-26 is Medical Laboratory Professionals week and we're checking in with the people who work in the lab at Martha Jefferson Hospital.

They're using new technology to help test, diagnose and treat patients with sepsis.

When you're a patient at the hospital, you see your doctors and nurses often, but there are other people working hard behind the scenes in the lab to provide medical care.

"We do a lot of testing down here and I would say that at least 70% of the test that are done on the patient are done in the lab. We play a major role in diagnosing for the doctors with all that we do here," Shirley Jenkins, Martha Jefferson Hospital.

During this lab professionals week, we're taking a look at some of what the folks in the lab do and some new changes specifically for testing patients for sepsis.

According to, Sepsis is a life threatening complication of an infection and it happens when chemicals released into the bloodstream to fight the infection trigger inflammation throughout the body.

Now Martha Jefferson Hospital has a new sepsis protocol or set of guidelines for testing.

"We have instituted screening tests that allow us to see if a patient is going down the road of sepsis...things like temperature, a glucose test, a white blood cell test and heart rate," said Jenkins.

If those vital signs and screen tests are outside of the normal limits, that alerts them to do additional testing.

This new testing is much faster and takes just 20 minutes which is down from 12 to 24 hours. That often results in a faster diagnosis which means patients can begin treatment much sooner.

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