Sepsis Stories
Katie McQuestion: Died from Sepsis, Age 26

Katie lit up a room when she entered it; she had the most infectious laugh. She had a huge heart and thought fondly of the elderly patients that she saw at the hospital where she worked as radiological technician. Katie had a special relationship with her 91-year-old Grandfather; she would go there for dinner and they would cook together and than play cribbage for hours. She loved animals beyond description, and her husband, family and friends were what put the bounce in her step and smile on her face.

Katie was just 26 years old when she died on January 2, 2015 of undiagnosed sepsis. She had been married only three months.

On Monday, December 29, 2014, Katie had what sounded like a head cold. On Tuesday, she was sent home from work and her doctor called in a prescription for cough syrup with codeine; I picked it up and brought it to her home. The doctor did not see Katie but said, “the flu was going around.” On Wednesday, Katie called me crying to say this was the worst she has ever felt; she was cold and then hot, her chest hurt, she had been vomiting, and was overall miserable. Katie’s doctor called in prescription for a steroid, which I picked up and brought to her. On Thursday, January 1, New Year’s Day, Katie called me crying again because she was so sick. I met her at the Hospital Emergency Department with her husband, the same hospital where she had worked. Katie’s heart rate when she arrived was 160 bpm, the hospital took a chest x-ray for pneumonia, which was negative, and they tested for both influenza and strep which were negative.

Katie said it was hard to breathe and chest felt heavy, she was vomiting and feeling very uncomfortable. Her white blood cell count (WBC) was elevated – the hospital attributed this to one dose of steroid Katie took the day before. Her were extremities cold – the hospital attributed this to the IV fluid Katie was receiving. She had a low body temperature of 97.6’ and her blood pressure low but “stable.”

After 9 hours in ER, the hospital admitted Katie because of high heart rate all day. Once in her room, the nurse said they were going to take more lab work and give her something to sleep. I left Katie at 7.30pm.

The Hospital called Katie’s husband and us at 10.45pm to say Katie had taken turn for worse and they were moving her to ICU. Katie died at 1.19am on Friday January 2, 2015. The Hospital told us we will never know how she became septic. Katie exhibited all the signs of sepsis, yet no one diagnosed it.

Our message to everyone is to Think Katie First when confronted with the symptoms of sepsis. Education of healthcare workers is critical, they should know the symptoms of sepsis the same as they know heart attack symptoms.

My intention in telling Katie’s story is to prevent other families from experiencing this deep grief and indescribable pain. Words cannot begin to express the enormity of losing our child; nothing will ever be the same for our families. She was a wonderful daughter, sister and one of my best friends. I will always be thankful we were able to plan her wedding together; we had so much fun. I feel blessed to have been her mom.

– By Ann Ceschin, Katie’s Mom.