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Sepsis Awareness Month: Why Each Person Matters

Posted on by CDC's Safe Healthcare Blog
Denise Cardo, MD
Director CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion
National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases
at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Photo of Dr. Denise Cardo
Dr. Denise Cardo

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that affects at least 1.7 million adults in the United States each year and causes nearly 270,000 deaths. This is too many lives. While these numbers represent many preventable deaths, they do not reflect the pain and suffering of families who have lost their loved ones and the loss of quality of life of the ones who survived.

Protecting patients–of all ages and in all settings–and reducing the impact of sepsis is our goal and our responsibility. CDC has a unique role in addressing sepsis by providing the scientific expertise, data, and epidemiology to inform programs, practices, and policies to prevent and address sepsis. CDC continues to learn about the epidemiology of sepsis in adults and children. Because of our data and investigations, we now know that many sepsis cases start outside the hospital and interventions for early recognition and management should be implemented across the spectrum of healthcare and community settings. Large and quality data are critical to assess the problem and implement public health and clinical interventions. More importantly, listening to families who have lost their loved ones and sepsis survivors has taught us that there are many missed steps that should not occur in our healthcare system. Learning from these experiences is critical to CDC’s work. And there is an urgency to address the gaps that lead to sepsis and deaths.

One key way we are raising awareness of sepsis is through the Get Ahead of Sepsis national education effort, which marks its second anniversary this month. Through this effort, CDC continues to emphasize the importance of sepsis early recognition, timely treatment, reassessment of antibiotic needs, and prevention of infections that can lead to sepsis. To reach even more people, Get Ahead of Sepsis educational materials for patients and healthcare professionals are available in both English and Spanish. This Sepsis Awareness Month, CDC is pleased to offer our new Sepsis Quiz, which allows patients to test their sepsis knowledge. We ask you to join us and help spread the word by sharing CDC’s Get Ahead of Sepsis educational resources with a loved one, patient, caregiver, or colleague. It could save a life.

Sepsis is a priority for CDC and across the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As part of value-based transformation initiatives, we are working very closely with our colleagues from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Biomedical Advanced Research & Development Authority, and the Secretary’s Office to identify and develop innovative ways to prevent, recognize, and treat sepsis.

We look forward to continuing to collaborate with our partners, clinicians, researchers, healthcare providers, and government colleagues. We could not do this important work without their support. Special thanks to all the families and sepsis survivors that are working with us to make sure we will act fast and efficiently to prevent sepsis and its consequences. These include those who have lost their lives to sepsis–Emily Aiello, Erin Flatley, Gabby Galbo, Cathy Mae Johnson-Lomnick, Peggy Lillis, Katie Ceschin McQuestion, Nile Moss, Rory Staunton, as well as survivors–Alicia Cole, Angelica Hale, Dana Mirman, Sue Stull, and so many more. They are a major driving force behind the work we do at CDC and have changed the way we work by putting a face on why we do the work we do. We invite you to visit our partners’ websites to learn more about the important work they are doing this month and beyond.

Posted on by CDC's Safe Healthcare Blog

6 comments on “Sepsis Awareness Month: Why Each Person Matters”

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    Hi, Great article! So well written -This is very helpful article for everyone. I wish to read more article from you!Thanks for sharing this valuable information!

    Very informative write up. In 2019, it’s ironical that there is no single “gold standard” diagnostic test for sepsis, and case definitions vary widely. Use of nonspecific terminology such as “septicemia” remains pervasive. There are striking reports of sepsis among Young children, pregnant women, senior population, and patients with chronic diseases or weak immune system. However, in developed countries which are equipped with latest facilities there are reports of less number of sepsis cases.
    Awareness will definitely help boost early diagnosis and will also boost demand for sepsis diagnostics. (read more about the demand-

    It is through early identification of signs and symptoms of sepsis and timely initiation of treatment that will save lives .Thank You CDC for the support and for the availability of resources .A lot of healthcare professionals still needs education about Sepsis.

    Nobody told me that a urinary tract infection (UTI) can kill you in less than a week. I had to learn the hard way. I was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, after my husband found me shaking like a leaf and too weak to stand. I had ignored the burning sensation I had felt a few days earlier when I urinated, and two days later, when I developed a high fever, I thought it must be the flu. I tried all the next day to reach my doctor, who was out of town. By the fourth day I had become too sick to make sensible decisions for myself. I was already in shock when they moved me from the emergency room to the intensive care unit (ICU). My doctor had returned by then, and she and the medical staff were fighting to save my life.

    I was told that a UTI had spread very rapidly to my bladder, then to my kidneys, then into my bloodstream. It’s called sepsis, a kind of blood poisoning that’s often fatal. I remained in the critical care unit for a week until I was transferred to a recovery unit where I stayed for another week. I was lucky that the hospital was only fifteen minutes from my house and that my doctor returned in the nick of time. I am deeply grateful to Evelyn Jackson, MD and the wonderful ICU nurses at Montgomery General Hospital in Maryland, because without their first rate care, I would not be here to issue this warning: urinary infections can kill you. If you suspect you have one, seek medical help immediately.

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