MONTICELLO — Each year, sepsis claims about 300,000 lives and costs about $41.5 billion to fight in the United States.
One of those lives lost was Monticello 5-year-old Gabrielle “Gabby” Galbo, who died in 2012 after an undetected tick bite developed into the extreme infection of sepsis.
Her father, Tony Galbo, made a promise on that day to help make sure others would not feel the pain his family felt.
“On May 11, 2012, when my 5-year-old daughter, Gabby, died, I held her body in my arms and made a promise to her — that I would get Gabby’s Law so that no other parents would have to walk in our shoes,” Galbo said.
That led to the passage of Gabby’s Law in 2016, which requires hospitals in Illinois to implement evidence-based processes for quickly recognizing and treating sepsis.
Now, U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, wants to make it a federal law. Appearing with the Galbo family Tuesday at Gabby’s Gazebo in Monticello, he promoted House Resolution 7514, which would require all hospitals to “adopt, implement and periodically update using the best evidence-based sepsis protocols.”
Davis thanked state Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, and former state Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, for getting the law passed in Illinois but added, “we’ve got to do more. We’ve got to make sure that we have a national approach to helping put better protocols in our hospitals to ensure that sepsis is not missed like it was in Gabby’s case.”
Noting the high death count of sepsis — a body’s extreme response to an infection — Davis pointed out that it is preventable.
“Many of those sepsis victims could have been cured as long as it was diagnosed initially,” he said.
The federal law mirrors the Illinois one, with one enforcement “stick” that Davis feels will make it even more effective: withholding Medicaid reimbursements for hospitals that do not comply.
“That’s a big stick. But it’s important,” Davis said.
Galbo pointed out that sepsis is the leading cause of death in hospitals nationwide, yet only four states mandate protocols.
“We must do better. We have to do better,” said Galbo, who was on hand with his wife, Liz, and children Filippo and Giada. “Patients presenting with signs and symptoms must be screened for sepsis with the same urgency as heart-attack or stroke patients.”
Davis said he is waiting to get a hearing in the House, the next step towards possible passage.
Landon Stenger, chief of staff for Rose, noted it is an easy cause for all parties to get behind.
“This is not a partisan issue. It passed in Illinois on a bipartisan basis and is not a Democrat or Republican issue,” he said. “It’s just a good policy. We obviously support this wholeheartedly.”