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Sepsis Awareness Month

Sepsis Awareness Month

September is Sepsis Awareness Month and on September 8th and 9th the first World Sepsis Congress was held.

Sepsis is a medical emergency which was recently confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More Americans die every year of sepsis than from heart attacks. Recognition and treatment of heart attacks has evolved in recent years which has led to decreased mortality and morbidity. Sepsis should be treated in a similar manner with the same sense of urgency (Sara McMannus RN, MBA Clinical Program Manager, GE Healthcare Education Services)

The CDC’s recent Vital Signs report found that 7 in 10 patients with sepsis had recently interacted with healthcare providers or had chronic diseases requiring frequent medical care. These healthcare encounters can be opportunities for healthcare providers to prevent, identify, and treat patients with sepsis early, as well as educate patients and their families about sepsis.

Sepsis Facts:

  • Sepsis begins outside of the hospital for nearly 80% of patients
  • More than 90% of adults and 70% of children who developed sepsis had a health condition that may have put them at risk
  • Sepsis occurs most often in people 65 years or older or younger than 1 year, with weakened immune systems, or with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes.
  • While less common, even healthy infants, children, and adults can develop sepsis from an infection, especially when not treated properly.
  • Common bacteria that can cause sepsis are Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli (E. coli), and some types of Streptococcus.
  • Four types of infections most often associated with sepsis include infection of lung, urinary tract, skin and gut

The signs and symptoms of sepsis include one or more of the following:

  • Shivering, fever, or very cold
  • Extreme pain or discomfort
  • Clammy or discolored skin
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Shortness of breath
  • High heart rate

The CDC has offered the following recommendations for healthcare providers:

  • Prevent infections.Follow infection control requirements (e.g., hand hygiene) and ensure patients receive recommended vaccines (e.g., flu and pneumococcal).
  • Educate patients and their families.Stress the need to prevent infections, manage chronic conditions, and seek care if signs of severe infection or sepsis are present.
  • Think sepsis.Know sepsis signs and symptoms to identify and treat patients early.
  • Act fast.If sepsis is suspected, order tests to determine if an infection is present, where it is, and what caused it. Start antibiotics and other medical care immediately. Document antibiotic dose, duration, and purpose.
  • Reassess patient management.Check patient progress frequently. Reassess antibiotic therapy 24-48 hours or sooner to change therapy as needed. Be sure the antibiotic type, dose, and duration are correct.

Sepsis Alliance is an organization that is dedicated to raising awareness among both the general public and healthcare professionals. Their effort has made a difference in saving lives, yet there is still much work to be done. With early identification and treatment using basic readily available fluids and antibiotics, thousands of sepsis patients can be saved. (Sara McMannus RN, MBA Clinical Program Manager, GE Healthcare Education Services)

On September 15, 2016, Sepsis Alliance will be honoring individuals and organizations who have made an impact on spreading sepsis awareness.  The 5th annual Sepsis Heroes – An Evening Celebrating Champions of Sepsis Awareness will take place in New York City. The 2016 honorees are:

  • Martin Doerfler, MD – Associate Chief Medical Officer at Northwell Health and a leading advocate for sepsis awareness and education
  • Lisa Bartlett (Davis) – Sepsis advocate who started community awareness events in Illinois and Colorado after the death of her husband to sepsis
  • Tom Ahrens, PhD – Nurse educator and leader in educating nurses on sepsis best practices
  • Hillary Spangler – Sepsis survivor who has gone on to medical school and is an advocate for sepsis education and awareness.
  • Kennedy Health – A hospital system in NJ that has demonstrated a system-wide commitment to improving treatment and outcomes from sepsis.

New for 2016, the Sepsis Heroes Gala will present the Erin Kay Flatley Spirit Award. This award is given in memory of Erin Kay Flatley, a 23-year-old aspiring teacher who died unnecessarily of sepsis after a routine surgery.  This year’s Spirit Award recipient is Audrey Leishman and the Begin Again Foundation. Audrey started the Begin Again Foundation in 2015 following her survival from sepsis. The foundation provides financial support to families struggling from their loss or disability from sepsis, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), or toxic shock syndrome (TSS).

Amanda Valeur, President and Founder of MCN Healthcare/MCN Learning and Director of the MCN Foundation will be at the Sepsis Heroes Gala in support of Sepsis Alliance and advancing sepsis awareness among healthcare providers and the general public.

Sepsis Alliance encourages doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, medical offices, clinics, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities to take an extra step to spread sepsis awareness among their patients and employees.

The CDC has a new Safe Healthcare Blog and is offering webinars throughout the month of September.  See the CDC’s website for additional information and clinical guidelines and tools.




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