“It was quite scary,” he told the publication. “They told me I was lucky to make it so long. I was close to septic shock.”

Sepsis is a massive immune system response to infection that, left unchecked, can result in tissue damage, organ failure and death, reports the Sepsis Alliance. Each year, more than 1.7 million people in the United States are diagnosed with sepsis and 270,000 die from it.

It’s the top cause of death among people who are already hospitalized, the organization says.

Symptoms can include shivering, fever, chills, pain, pale or discolored skin, sleep, lethargy and shortness of breath, according to the Sepsis Alliance.

"Waiting too long is dangerous," Dr. Steven Simpson, the medical director of the Sepsis Alliance, told BuzzFeed News.. "When you have these kind of symptoms people need to seek medical attention.”

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The three unions said they have organized a so-called "patient protection task force" who would be "ready to respond in any emergency life threatening" scenarios.

"Our members really feel a responsibility for the work they do every day," said Lybarger. "Striking for us is a measure of last resort because we work for the public and the public’s health and safety is a top priority for our workers."

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