Medical Administration Careers: Medical Scribes Can Learn About Sepsis and SIRS by Watching Videos and Discussing Scenarios

Medical Scribes can learn medical terminology and familiarize themselves with medical procedures by watching videos and discussing scenarios like the one below.

By Walter Rodriguez, PhD and Valerie Weiss, MD

Sepsis and SIRS are severe conditions that require interventions to counteract. If not treated properly, then multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS) and death may occur.”

Lesson: What is Sepsis? Sepsis is the presence in tissues of harmful bacteria and their toxins, typically through infection of a wound (Ref. Check also: SIRS



Pedro Ramirez is a 67-year old retired veteran who had a routine prostate biopsy in an outpatient hospital facility on Thursday. He was released in the late afternoon and went home with his wife, Gladys. Pedro had a heavy dinner and watched TV with Gladys in their family room. Pedro complained of feeling crummy but nothing that a little rest couldnt fix. Gladys went to bed at 9:30 p.m. leaving him alone. When she awoke at 6:00 a.m. on Friday, and he wasnt in bed beside her, she went downstairs and found him lying on the family room floor. He was extremely drowsy, shivering, and had urinated on himself. 

Gladys called 911.  The local EMS arrived and asked his wife what happened. She told them about the prostate biopsy, and that he was fine before she went to bed.  She reported that Pedro had taken pre-operative antibiotics, but she didnt know the name of the antibiotic or dosage. She wasnt sure which medications he took regularly, as there were many bottles on his dresser.

Post-operative infection is a broad term which applies to several types of infections a patient can experience as a consequence of undergoing surgery.”

Symptoms of Sepsis

Pedro was drifting in and out of consciousness and was only able to answer the question pertaining to his name. He was taken by ambulance to the local hospital (different than the hospital affiliated with the outpatient facility). The EMS professionals told Gladys to get dressed and meet them at the hospital. Once in the ER, the attending nurse tried to get some pertinent information from Pedro.  Unfortunately, all he recalled was his biopsy.  Pedros vital signs showed:

          Temperature of 102.5 degrees F

          Blood pressure 88/68 mmHg

          Pulse of 122 beats per minute

          Respiration rate of 32 breaths per minute

His blood pressure was dropping--he was going into shock. 

Coordination of care

Gladys arrived and was told that her husband would be fine; she did not need to worry.  However, she was unable to provide any more insight or a list of his meds.  She did not know his baseline vital signs. It was Pedros first ER experience in this hospital so he had no prior records on file. The ER doctors determined he was in septic shock and once stabilized would be moved to a critical care unit for recovery.  Once stabilized, Pedro was able to provide a list of his meds to the nurses.  The hospitalist came to see Pedro who said he would contact his primary care physician (PCP) to provide an update.  During the next two days (the weekend), numerous tests were administered to Pedro to test for the function of his heart, kidney, liver, etc.

          The hospital staff was unable to gain his medical records from the outpatient facility where the prostate biopsy was performed because it was done in another hospital system. On Monday, they were considering a pacemaker because his heart rate was so low. Frustrated by all of the uncertainty, his wife Gladys called the PCP and asked why she wasnt involved. Dr. de' Medicis, the PCP, said the hospitalist never notified her that her patient of 15 years was in the hospital. She also told Gladys that Pedro had a very low resting heart rate when well and that his current heart rate was normal! At that moment, Dr. de' Medecis (PCP) stepped in and coordinated Pedros care with the hospital.


Discussion Questions:

1. How would Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and Electronic Health Records (EHR) help in the above scenario?

2. How would a Medical Scribe assist the Hospitalist and/or the PCP in this scenario?