Sepsis Stories
Joseph Graziano photo died of sepsis
Joseph Graziano: Died of Sepsis, Age 75

Story told by Joseph’s loving daughter,  Jennifer Caroleo

My father passed away on March 6th, 2022, at a major New York City hospital from septic shock. He was 75 years old.

He underwent a cardiac procedure when a complication occurred. The complication went undetected and, therefore, remained untreated. He was discharged after 24 hours and given two follow-up appointment dates. The first follow-up appointment was scheduled two weeks post-op, and the second appointment was a week after that. He was not ordered to undergo any post-op testing.

While at home recovering, he experienced numerous symptoms. Initially thought to be related to COVID or the flu, his symptoms became extremely severe by the fourth week. He wasn’t eating or drinking, ceased going to the bathroom, felt bloated in the stomach, had lower back pain, experienced shaking, fever, dry heaves, and lost mobility in his arm and leg.

His wife called 911, and he was taken to a local city hospital. Due to COVID restrictions, she had to wait in a lobby area, unable to see or be near him in the ER. Several hours later, he was discharged with flu-like symptoms, testing negative for both COVID and the flu. At home, he remained in bed, not eating or drinking, and not needing to use the bathroom.

Two days after his ER discharge, his wife received a call from doctors, informing her of positive bacterial infection results in his blood work. He needed to return to the ER urgently. Without medical transportation, she had no way to get him there. He instructed her to contact his cardiologist, who arranged a car service. His wife and his oldest sister assisted him from his bedroom to the car, navigating stairs and a lengthy car ride to the hospital.

Upon arrival, he was diagnosed with several bacterial infections, bleeding on the brain, and multiple strokes and seizures. Due to his critical condition, doctors withheld oxygen to reduce the risk of further strokes. He remained unconscious and in septic shock, deprived of oxygen for two days. During this time, all we could do was hold his hand and cry.

The causes of my father’s death were direct results of an untreated complication from the surgical procedure just 34 days prior. Every day, I hope to hear someone say, “You can see your father now.” Although those words will never come, my father would want to ensure I fight for his and his grandchildren’s legacy. I will fight daily to hold everyone involved in my father’s care and the federal government accountable for his death, ensuring that in the future, doctors and nurses can convey to my son and daughter the words I was meant to hear.