Tainted Blood

By: Nina Jean-Jacques

Over the last decade, the incidence of blood poisoning has dramatically increased. Blood poisoning, or sepsis, may sound like a bioterrorist attack, but it happens in the human body during a response to infection. Researchers at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C. found that the use of lactate detection is highly effective in identifying proper blood flow. Early detection and treatment of the diseases is critical because it is an extremely life threatening condition.

The previously recommended system to evaluate blood flow and oxygen delivery to the different parts of the body was to test how saturated the blood was with oxygen. The Carolinas Medical Center study found that monitoring the amount lactate removed from the blood is a more accurate way of detecting sepsis. In a study comparing the different methods, more patients died when using the oxygen method. All patients in the study underwent the same treatment therapy and showed no difference in the levels of side effects.

To measure the oxygen levels, a catheter must be placed in the chest to test the central venous blood. Testing lactate concentration is less invasive in that regard where the catheter is not needed. Keeping patients as comfortable as possible is an essential part of treatment. The efforts to improve observation of sepsis are a giant step in the right direction.


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