Healthcare News & Insights

Vitamin C could help sepsis patients recover

Sepsis is one of the biggest killers in hospitals. Thousands of patients who contract the illness die each year. And lowering sepsis rates has been a tough battle for facilities to fight. However, new research may help hospitals get a handle on this deadly disease – with only a common vitamin. 

An article from NPR discusses the efforts of Dr. Paul Marik of Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Virginia. Dr. Marik was treating a patient with a severe case of sepsis who was at death’s door. Her lungs and kidneys were failing, and it didn’t look like she would survive through the night.

The doctor had read a recent study from Virginia Commonwealth University where patients experienced positive outcomes from sepsis when they were treated with intravenous vitamin C. Since he had few options available, he decided to test this approach on his patient.

Along with a dose of vitamin C, Dr. Marik gave the patient a small dose of corticosteroids and an additional vitamin, thiamine. After receiving the medication, the patient made a complete turnaround and recovered from the illness.

Given these results, Dr. Marik started using this treatment on other sepsis patients he treated, and it made a similar positive impact on their conditions. This inspired him to start using the infusion on more patients with sepsis who were under his care.

Once he treated close to 50 patients with sepsis using the vitamin C infusion, Dr. Marik reviewed their health outcomes and compared them to a previous group of people with sepsis.

Out of 47 sepsis patients who received the infusion, only four died in the hospital, and their deaths were due to other illnesses – not sepsis. Meanwhile, with the previous 47 patients the hospital treated for sepsis, 19 of them died in the hospital.

After that, Dr. Marik started treating all patients with sepsis using the vitamin C infusion, and only one person has died of sepsis since.

Future of treatment

The success of this initiative has inspired other, more intense research designed to determine just how effective vitamin C can be with treating sepsis in hospitals. Virginia Commonwealth University is currently running a follow-up study about how vitamin C can fight sepsis. It’s wider in scope than the previous research, including placebos and blind testing, and it’s being conducted at several different universities.

It’s said that vitamin C infusions may be so beneficial to sepsis patients because injections of the vitamin can have an immediate impact on the immune system’s response to inflammation, so it may ease the triggers that cause patients to develop sepsis.

In time, additional research may give more weight to this theory. It’s worthwhile for your providers to keep their eyes on any developments in this area, as vitamin C infusions would be an easily accessible and relatively cost-effective treatment for sepsis in hospitals. We’ll keep you posted.

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