Sepsis Awareness – Did Patty Duke have to die?

Oscar Winner Patty Duke Dead at 69.

Oscar Winner Patty Duke Dead at 69.

Oscar-winning actress Patty Duke, star of “The Patty Duke Show” and the Broadway play and film “The Miracle Worker,” died of sepsis from a ruptured intestine on Tuesday.

The question I have is “did Patty Duke have to die from this?”   It may seem like an odd question, I mean obviously we all eventually die, however, having worked in the health care field for over 25 years I have seen people with sepsis fully recover when they seek medical intervention early.

Many may have never heard about sepsis, unless you or a loved one has been at risk.  Sepsis is a reaction to an infection that can lead to systemic organ failure.  According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sepsis kills more than 258,000 Americans every year, making it the ninth-leading cause of disease-related deaths in the country. While most fully recover from sepsis, some survivors can be left with permanent organ damage or the need for limb amputation.

Who is susceptible to sepsis?

According to the CDC, anyone can get sepsis as a bad outcome from an infection, but the risk is higher in:

  • people with weakened immune systems
  • babies and very young children
  • elderly people
  • people with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, AIDS, cancer, and kidney or liver disease
  • people suffering from a severe burn or wound

It is always a good idea to ask your doctor about your risk for getting sepsis.

You could save your own life, simply by knowing what sepsis is

The signs of sepsis can be broken down in a simple acronym, notes the CDC.

S – Shivering, fever, or feeling very cold
E – Extreme pain or general discomfort, as in “worst ever”
P – Pale or discolored skin
S – Sleepy, difficult to wake up or confused
I – “I feel like I might die”
S – Shortness of breath

Sadly to world lost an icon in the passing of Patty Duke.  However, her passing has shined a spotlight on this life-threatening response to infection which hopefully will save others who have become aware of the signs of sepsis through this tragedy.

For more resources and support visit

About Sue Salach

Sue has a Master's degree in Gerontology and has worked with the elderly and their families for over 30 years and is the Author of "Along Comes Grandpa", a caregiving resource guide, and the novel "If I Walked in Her Shoes". As an ElderCare Expert and Keynote Speaker, Sue employs her comprehensive experience and passion, to educate and promote self-care values to family caregivers and the community at large.
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1 Response to Sepsis Awareness – Did Patty Duke have to die?

  1. Steve Thoren says:

    Hi Suzie,

    Hope you are well.

    I have some BIG news to share. Hope we can connect soon.

    Steve Thoren, CSA


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