Like most people, Lisa Davis didn’t know much about sepsis when she rushed to an Illinois hospital in 2012 after her husband, Jeff Davis, became terribly ill.
Davis was working at his job at a Chili’s restaurant when he began shaking uncontrollably. His temperature registered 104.6 in the emergency room, and doctors suspected he might have the flu.
Within 24 hours after his arrival at the hospital, the 40-year-old Davis had died. The cause of death: sepsis, a systemic inflammatory response to infection. Lisa Davis said that doctors found pneumococcal pneumonia bacteria in Jeff Davis’ system after he died.
Since that day of her husband’s death, Lisa Davis has been trying to raise awareness and educate everyday people about the dangers of sepsis.
“I want to raise awareness of sepsis so that people will be able to recognize the symptoms,’’ she said. “I now know about sepsis, and I want everyone to know about it. It’s too deadly to not pay attention to.’’
On Saturday, July 8, Davis will host the 4th Annual In Loving Memory of Jeffrey Ray Davis 5K for Sepsis Awareness in Colorado Springs. The race begins at 10 a.m. at Bear Creek Regional Park East, Pavilion No. 4. Race participants pay a $30 entry fee, and 100 percent of proceeds from the race go to Sepsis Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public and improving outcomes for sepsis patients.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, sepsis ranks as the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. after heart disease and cancer — more than 258,000 lives are lost every year. General symptoms include fever, hypothermia, a heart rate of greater than 90 beats per minutes, fast respiratory rate, altered mental status, edema and high blood glucose without diabetes.
UCHealth, a sponsor of the Jeffrey Ray Davis run on July 8, has a system-wide offensive against sepsis. UCHealth has an early warning system that allows bedside providers in medical/surgical units to assess the risk of sepsis by identifying infection and altered mental status and enter vital signs, such as pulse and respiratory rates, and body temperature, into the Epic electronic health record. If the information indicates the patient is at risk for sepsis, Epic triggers a “best practice advisory” and nurses can order a lactate and complete a blood count test to confirm or rule it out. If the patient is septic, providers are to order broad-spectrum antibiotics, fluids and, if necessary, vasopressors to raise blood pressure.
Lisa Davis said it is important for people to understand how lethal sepsis is and to advocate on behalf of their loved ones.
When Jeffrey Davis died, he left two children – Tristan, then 3, and Lydia, then 9 months old – and two stepchildren, Alissa, 11, and Abbigail, 10.
Lisa Davis now makes her home in Colorado – she’s married to a soldier who is stationed at Fort Carson. Last year, more than 75 people ran and walked in Colorado in memory of a man from Michigan and to educate more people about the dangers of sepsis.
Davis said she hopes to see many people at the July 8 event. To register online, go to JeffreyDavis5K.org.