Septic Shock Claims Life of Muhammad Ali and Many Others – How to Identify Sepsis

There is no doubt that boxing legend Muhammad Ali will be remembered forever for his tenacity in the ring as well as his outspoken nature. Claiming, “I am the greatest,” Ali captured the hearts and minds of boxing fans around the globe. He will be sorely missed.

He came into Scottsdale Memorial Hospital Osborn on Monday evening with respiratory distress. After much effort, hospital personnel were unable to prevent Ali from going into Septic Shock and he passed away on Friday evening. (1).

Ali is not alone, each year hundreds of thousands of people die from septic shock. (2). Most of the time there is not much that can be done to prevent the patient’s condition from rapidly deteriorating. The most important aspect of dealing with a sepsis case is to ensure that it is recognized as soon as possible. Signs and symptoms of a septic patient include the following:

  • Recent History of Infection or Severe Illness;
  • History of Kidney Disease;
  • Urine Incontinence
  • Tachypenia
  • Shortness of Breath/Respiratory Difficulty
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Fever/Chills
  • Low Core Body Temperature
  • Altered Mental Status
  • Nausea/Vomiting/Dizziness
  • Tachycardia

Sepsis can be extremely disorienting for the person experiencing the symptoms above. It is important to point out that patients may be experiencing extreme nausea and dizziness. Patients with sepsis, generally don’t look good, however, there are times when it can be deceiving. For the EMS provider, fluids will generally be indicated as well as Oxygen administration and medicine to help manage nausea (if permitted). Again, rapid identification of sepsis is critical for long-term treatment. In the acute case, there is greater likelihood of turning the condition around, however, in the chronic case, management can be more difficult and treatment is often centered upon patient comfort.

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  1. Sanchez, Ray “Muhammad Ali: Inside his final hours,” CNN 5 Jun 2016 http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/04/us/muhammad-ali-final-days/ (Accessed June 5, 2016).
  2. World Sepsis Day, “Sepsis Facts,” 13 Sep 2016 http://www.world-sepsis-day.org/?MET=SHOWCONTAINER&vCONTAINERID=11 (Accessed June 5, 2016).
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