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From Grey’s Anatomy to New Film, Starfish: Sepsis in Entertainment

December 14, 2020

Now that sepsis is a word that more people are recognizing, it’s interesting to see how we notice it in television shows and movies more often.

In the wake of the upcoming release of the movie Starfish, we thought we would look to see what other shows had plot lines that included sepsis or septic shock.

Starfish is a movie that was filmed in the United Kingdom three years ago and had a limited release in the United States not long after. The movie is due for full release this coming December 15th. It was recently released in Australia.

Starring Joanne Froggatt (of Downton Abbey fame) and Tom Reilly, this movie tells the story of life after sepsis. Tom’s character survives septic shock, but he is no longer the person he was before his illness. Joanne’s character delves into the issues that affect the loved ones of survivors, as they learn to navigate life as they now know it.

New Amsterdam (NBC), a medical show that stars Ryan Eggold as Max Goodwin, the medical director of a public hospital in New York City, tackled sepsis in episode 15 of season 1. Max is undergoing chemotherapy and trying to juggle work and homelife at the same time.

A new show, Transplant (NBC) is about a Syrian refugee who works as an ER resident in a downtown Toronto hospital. Halfway through the first season, in episode 11, Dr. Bashir Hamed sees a patient who has sepsis.

Anne with an E (Netflix) is a historical drama (reimagining) based on the Anne of Green Gables stories. In one of the episodes in the final season, a beloved character develops sepsis and dies as a result.

Chicago Med (NBC), one of the three in a series of Chicago-based shows that includes Chicago Fire and Chicago PD, waited a while before introducing sepsis, but they made up for it be featuring it three times so far. It was a topic in season 3, episodes 7 and 8 and it was revisited in season 4, in episode 13.

Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) has tackled sepsis several times. The first time may have been in season 3, in episode 14, when a patient faints because of “toxic blood.”

Did you watch the show House, with Hugh Laurie as a cantankerous but highly skilled diagnostician? Sepsis was mentioned there sometimes, including in episode 8 of season 2. The episode was called The Mistake.

According to the website IMDb, these shows and movies also mentioned sepsis in at least one episode:

  • Atonement
  • Harpoon
  • Plastic Surgery Nightmare (E!)
  • Black Lightening (The CW)
  • Blue Bloods (CBS)
  • Batwoman (The CW)

Of course, other shows have mentioned or featured sepsis as well. In fact, in some earlier Sepsis Awareness surveys, respondents said this is how they learned about the word. Sepsis awareness also rises when a celebrity or famous person contracts it. While not all news reports state sepsis (most say complications of pneumonia or other infections), Sepsis Alliance keeps a list of famous people who have had sepsis: Sepsis and Celebrities.

Entertainment is a good way to help educate people about various important subjects and sepsis is no different. Sepsis Alliance would like to thank everyone who uses whatever means they have at their disposal to help spread sepsis awareness.